How to make your education cost less

Here in Australia we are very fortunate as tuition fees do not have to be paid upfront but are repaid later on through taxation.  Nonetheless, attending university still has many costs mostly because if you attend full-time, you have no time to work to offset any cost.  I know for myself that I had very little money and it was always a major struggle to get through the semester.  Looking back though there are things I would have done differently.

Firstly, I would have avoided on-campus accommodation.  Some of these costs can be quite high even though you get meals etcetera included.  If I had my time back over again going into a share house arrangement with a few other people to split rent costs but utilities as well as these can add up over the year progresses.  At the time, there were six bedroom houses available for rent and the cost of rent would have been only $50/week plus a share of utilities.  This is a lot less than the $150 I had to cough up every week to rent on-campus.

Of course the advantage of on-campus accommodation is access to the university and its facilities without any transport costs.  If I was going to a share house I’d want at least one person to have a car and then everyone chips in for fuel and running costs.  Not a bad solution especially if you decide at the beginning to share the cost of a cheap car.

I did make use of second hand textbooks which I would advise but also its a good idea for the larger core units to share textbooks.  There are usually multiple tutorial times so it is unlikely that you would need them at the same time.  I wouldn’t share between more than one as you could easily get conflicts closer to exams.

Also the advantage of a share house is you can share food costs.  Decide on a menu together rather than cooking individually and that way no food is wasted.  I think if I had done some of these things I could have cut my university costs in half but never having been or knowing anyone else who had I didn’t know any better.

Of course the other alternative is to go part-time and work part-time to offset any cost.  If you did half a full time load and worked one to two days a week you would need an extra three years but a lot less financial stress to go with it and studying is stressful enough as it is.

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