Paying for a university education


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Paying for a university education

A university education may be something that you want for your children so that they can have their pick of careers in a highly competitive world: some industries require a degree to make it onto the next rung of the corporate ladder or into a higher pay bracket.

Or you may want them to have the chance to absorb themselves in a passion, whether it is art, history, physics or philosophy. A university education may enable your daughter or son to follow their dreams of becoming a doctor, vet, lawyer, engineer or even an astronaut - all of which require a degree in a specific field.

Alternatively, you may just want them to have an opportunity you were not granted yourself. Whatever the reason, if a university education is something you want for your kids, it's important to consider the costs that come with it.

In 2011, 888,431 domestic students were enrolled at higher education providers across Australia.

Costs aren't limited to tuition fees. Students also face expenses for textbooks, study materials, computers, Internet access, travel, as well as pocket money for socialising. And if they leave the family home for university, they also face costs including rent, groceries, healthcare, electricity and more.

The sad reality is that a tertiary education for your children may become financially out of reach if you are not there to support them because of death, illness or injury. With life insurance that compromise need not have to be made in the event of tragedy.

Studying in Australia

According to the Global Higher Education Rankings 2010 report that compares 15 countries regarding costs for higher education, affordability and living costs, Australia is one of the most expensive countries in which to get a university degree.

Education costs, including tuition fees, additional mandatory ancillary fees and the cost of books and study materials, are US$7,692 per year of study in Australia. Higher tertiary education costs only occur in Japan with US$11,865 and the U.S. with US$13,856i. While Norway offers the most affordable higher education with costs at just over 2.2 per cent of median income levelii, Australia ranks 12th with higher education costs at 33.42 per cent of median incomeii, indicating that a university degree requires significant financial resources.

The Global Higher Education Rankings 2010 report also provides a Total Cost Affordability Ranking, which takes the costs of higher education, including tuition fees and textbook costs combined with living expenses into account; the only countries more expensive than Australia are Japan and the U.S.iii. This means higher education in Australia is less affordable than in 12 out of 15 countries analysed for this report.

The total average cost of an Australian university degree is US$19,352.This includes education costs and living expenses of US$11,660 a year for housing, food, transportation and other expensesiv. Living costs do not include out of pockets costs for entertainment and socialising, such as seeing a movie, attending a music festival, going out with friends, and travel. Depending on the city and the student's lifestyle, these out of pocket costs can pile up quickly.

Yet, despite the relatively high costs for tertiary education in Australia, 888,431 domestic students were enrolled at higher education providers in 2011, an increase of 3.6 per cent from 2010v.

Options to finance a tertiary education include HESC-HELP as well as scholarships or grants. HESC-HELP provides loans to eligible students and, in certain cases, provides a discount of 10% for up-front student contribution payments of $500 or morevi. Simply put, students who can afford to pay up front are not saddled with debt and may even get their education cheaper. And while Government scholarships such as the Australian Awards or the Australian Postgraduate Awards are available, keep in mind that they are highly sought after, so there's never a guarantee of scoring one.

Studying overseas

Experiencing other cultures and languages while studying overseas can enrich a student's education and with employers increasingly valuing international experience, overseas studies can increase a student's chances to get a desirable position in a globally connected worldvii. The costs associated with going overseas as part of an academic program mainly depends on the nature of the program and the length of the stay. Aside from tuition fees, major costs include (but are not limited to) airfares, accommodation and living expenses, transport, health insurance and entertainment costs. Average living costs overseas may range from $1,500 to $2,000per month, depending on the country of destinationviii.

Experiencing other cultures and languages while studying overseas can enrich a student's education and increase their chances to score a desirable position after graduation.

A higher education can have a significant impact on your children's quality of life, not least because it is associated with the capacity to earn a higher income. Don't put the opportunity for your kids to go to University at risk: help to secure their future by taking out life insurance


i Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA), Global Higher Education Rankings 2010, http://www.ireg-observatory.org/pdf/HESA_Global_Higher_EducationRankings2010.pdf, p.12

ii Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA), Global Higher Education Rankings 2010, http://www.ireg-observatory.org/pdf/HESA_Global_Higher_EducationRankings2010.pdf, p.13

iii Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA), Global Higher Education Rankings 2010, http://www.ireg-observatory.org/pdf/HESA_Global_Higher_EducationRankings2010.pdf, p.16

iv Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA), Global Higher Education Rankings 2010, http://www.ireg-observatory.org/pdf/HESA_Global_Higher_EducationRankings2010.pdf, p.14

v Australian Government, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Summary of the 2011 full year higher education student statistics, http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Publications/HEStatistics/Publications/Documents/2011/2011_Attachment_B.pdf

vi Australian Government, Study Assist, HECS-HELP, http://studyassist.gov.au/sites/studyassist/helppayingmyfees/hecs-help/pages/hecs-help-welcome

vii Study Overseas, Why study overseas? http://www.studyoverseas.gov.au/whystudy.html

viii Study Overseas, Frequently Asked Questions, http://www.studyoverseas.gov.au/whystudyoverseas/FAQ.html