What study costs and how to fund it

Find out what tertiary study costs, and how you could pay for it.

Costs for study and work-based training

Course fees

Tertiary course fees range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars a year, depending on the course type, the education provider, and which year of study you’re in.

Studying at an education provider, such as a university or wānanga, is usually more expensive than doing an apprenticeship or work-based training.

Course-related costs

Course-related costs can include:

  • textbooks and stationery
  • computer items
  • tools and equipment.

Ask education providers about course-related costs, and where you can look for second-hand items.

Living costs

Living costs (such as rent, food, power and internet) are likely to be your biggest expense, especially if you leave home to study or train.

Tips for managing your money - video


How can you manage your money while you're studying? Five learners give you some budget tips – 1.59 mins.

Francis: Personally I was always worrying about how much money I had in the bank. I just work as much as I can in the summer and save up.

Amy: I found working while studying is a really big benefit. There is only so much money you can get from the government. If you do need to work to study you’ve gotta make sure you get everything done before you go to work.

TC: If you’re thinking of going to do tertiary study, get onto your student allowance straight away so you get money coming in when you hit your first week of uni.

Shevaun: One of my biggest money worries was not having any money on placement as my part time job was only two weekdays. Dealing with that I sorta just had to do things that didn’t cost, yeah, just go without for a wee while.

Amy: Obviously the student lifestyle has quite a social aspect. I had a week that I spent all of my money in town. I ended up having to hand wash my clothes in a bucket with some soap. I lived off rice and sweet chilli sauce for a week and I pretty much just didn’t do anything for that entire week.

Francis: During my first year because I was in a hall, they’re covering heating, your food, electricity, water, whatnot. If your hall covers all the necessities that you need to survive down there then you shouldn’t find yourself needing to pay extra money for things that are already being covered.

Shannon: My advice for saving money is that sometimes living off two-minute noodles, if that’s what you gotta do that’s what you have to do.


Fees Free initiative

Fees-free tertiary study

If you’re doing tertiary study for the first time, you may be eligible for the equivalent of one year’s study paid through the Fees Free initiative.

Fees-free apprenticeship

If you're doing an apprenticeship for the first time, you may be eligible for the equivalent of two years’ industry training paid through the Fees Free initiative.

Some education providers have their own fees-free schemes. Check course costs at different education providers before you enrol.

Ways to pay for your study

You can pay for study, and related costs, in a range of ways.

Student loans and allowances

You may qualify for StudyLink’s:

Sign up for RealMe

To apply for StudyLink allowances and loans, you need to sign up for RealMe.

Employers, family/whānau or savings

In some situations your employer may pay for you to study or train. For example:

  • if you do an apprenticeship, your employer may pay your fees, though they aren’t required to. You should receive at least the training minimum wage. However, you will still have living costs and course-related costs 
  • if you train in a Defence Force role, your employer may pay for your training and living costs.

Other ways of funding your study may include borrowing from your family/whānau, or using savings.

Work while you study 

Many people do part-time or full-time jobs while they study.

Income can affect your loan and allowance

Your income may affect when you have to start paying back your student loan, and may mean you get less for your student allowance. A partner’s income can also affect your student allowance.

Find and apply for scholarships

You may be able to get a scholarship that either pays your fees or gives you a grant of money.

Next step

Your next career planning step is to apply for study, an apprenticeship or training.

Updated 8 Aug 2019