What does it cost to go to uni? - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Parent Lounge Update

What does it cost to go to uni?

14 Oct 2020

Going to university is an exciting time for your child as they discover a new-found freedom in this next chapter of their life. However, this freedom does come with some financial responsibilities, so we’ve come up with some helpful tips on what costs are involved and ways to offset them.

Study fees

University study is an investment, but cost need not be an obstacle. When studying, your child will have tuition fees which is the actual cost of their subjects. But don’t stress, most domestic students study in a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) which means they will only pay a contribution towards the cost of their course. Most students defer this cost to HECS-HELP, which is a loan program that helps eligible students enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place to pay their student contribution amounts. Your child will only need to start repaying their debt once they are out in the workforce earning over a certain threshold.

Other university expenses your child might have while studying is textbooks, stationary and other course costs like a lab coat for practical classes, or a uniform for placements. You can find second-hand textbooks and uniforms through student-run groups on Facebook to help save costs.


Your child will need to attend lectures and tutorials each week during the semester so it’s important they have a way to get to the university. Whether that be public transport, carpooling with friends, or driving their own vehicle, these all involve associated costs with parking, fuel or travel card top ups.


Deciding where to live while studying can be tricky and it’s important to weigh up the costs and benefits of each option. Your child may choose to live at home or may be keen to fly the nest. Take a look at our sample budgets and planning tools to help your child decide what works best for them when it comes to accommodation.


A great way for your child to offset the costs of university study is to apply for scholarships and bursaries. They aren’t just for high achievers – scholarships and bursaries are also awarded to students who need financial assistance or who demonstrate other achievements, such as sporting excellence or community activities. There are also scholarships for different areas of study or relocation scholarships that support students in their move away from home. The application process is one simple online form and your child will be considered for most USC scholarships and bursaries. Applications for Semester 1, 2021 scholarships are open until Monday 30 November 2020. Your child can apply for a USC scholarship before they’ve received an offer to study at USC.

Part-time work

Another great way for your child to earn income while studying is through a part-time job. Most university students usually have more time to work when studying as they can plan their timetable to attend classes over the week, or if the subjects allow, schedule all their classes into two days. However, as a full-time student it’s important they learn to juggle their commitments. Generally, most students find working 12 to 15 hours a week provides a great balance and doesn’t impact on their academic performance.

Government support

Your child may also be eligible for a government allowance while studying. Centrelink has various payments available to eligible university students. Payments may be a one-off lump sum to help your child get started, or ongoing fortnightly payments. Start making enquiries now to see what payments your child may be eligible for, as this will help with their planning for next year. To find out more about this scheme, visit Services Australia.

How you can support your child

It’s important to have a conversation with your child about the amount of financial support your willing to provide through their university studies. It could be as little as helping with washing or cooking them dinner once a week, or it might be letting them live rent free while at home for a little bit. Whatever it is, it’s important to start these conversations and establish your position in providing financial support.

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