Making the transition - how you can help
Once your child has been offered a place on a university course there are still many ways you can support them.
You can help your child make a smooth transition by helping them understand and make decisions about parts of university life that can be new and challenging.
Understanding FEE-HELP and CSP
Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) are places in university courses that are able to be paid for by a government loan, instead of paying up front before students start to study. FEE-HELP is the loan scheme provided by the Australian Government that assists students in paying university fees for places in these courses until they are in a position to afford them. University courses charge for each subject, with the total cost ranging $14,000-$35,000 for a year of full-time study. As this cost can prevent a number of people from being able to afford to continue to higher education, FEE-HELP offers an opportunity to delay paying the cost of a course until you a working full-time and earning over a certain amount. Students pay back the cost as part of their regular salary over time instead of in one go.
It is very important to investigate whether or not FEE-HELP is available for a course before applying. Although many undergraduate courses have Commonwealth Supported Places, not every course or place in a course is eligible. You can use the VTAC guide (www.vtac.edu.au) to find out which courses have Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP).
FEE-HELP cannot be used for additional study costs such as accommodation or text books.
Additional costs of university study
Other costs to consider when planning for university include:
- Books - many subjects have set texts which students must have access to in order to complete set readings and assignments. Although university bookstores to provide an opportunity to purchase books new, there are ways to save money if you plan ahead. Many students sell their books after finishing a subject, allowing new students to purchase them second-hand. Some online bookstores also offer books (new and second-hand) at reduced prices, but it’s important to purchase then well in advance to allow time for delivery before semester starts. Many courses now use eBooks which often cost much less to use.
- Students are required to pay a Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) which goes towards providing and improving services and facilities (for example sports, careers, food and childcare) at university. This cost can be deferred to a FEE-HELP debt.
- Fees for joining clubs and societies - universities offer many opportunities for students to extend themselves and become a part of the university community by joining clubs and societies. Clubs and societies are organized by students themselves, and often funded by fees for members. They range from sports to languages, creative writing to charity, philosophy to computer games, and are run by students themselves.
- Accommodation - if your child is hoping to attend university in another town or city it is important to consider the costs of living such as rent, bills and food in addition to other costs of higher education.
- Universities often offer scholarships to assist students in paying for both courses fees, and additional costs such as accommodation. Scholarships will be listed on each university's website.
- Additionally, many students are eligible for government support while studying such as Youth Allowance, Abstudy and Austudy.
Student Support Services at university
- Universities want their students to transition smoothly into higher education and get the most out of their courses. To assist with this, they provide a number of additional services that are often free for students to help make the experience of higher education easier and more enjoyable. These include careers and job finding networks, health clinics, counselling, chaplaincy, well-being centres, financial advice, study support, learning centre and study skills courses, among many others.
Getting there - travel and transport
- For students living in metropolitan areas, most universities are well-serviced by public transport and student parking passes are available at yearly rates.
- Most universities also offer organised carpooling that can connect them with other students that live close by.
- For students living in rural areas, the challenges can be different. Students may consider regional campuses that are close to home, or they may decide to make the move to the city to attend university at a bigger campus or to take a course not offered in regional areas. Universities provide information about accommodation for students, which can be on campus (living at a residence managed by the university) or off-campus (living in private housing).