Student loans for tertiary study

September 1, 2021

If you need funds to pay for university accommodation or other living costs while studying next year, then check out StudyLink.

Tertiary study is a big commitment financially but is also a big investment in your future. There are three main costs involved:

  • compulsory course fees
  • living costs (food, travel, accommodation etc)
  • course-related costs (text books, laptop and other equipment)

You can apply each year through StudyLink for funds from the government to finance your tertiary study. There are two main ways:

  • Student Loan – You pay this loan back once you start working (earning over a certain amount) and it is interest-free. You apply separately for funds to pay for course fees, living costs and course-related costs.
  • Student Allowance – This is a weekly allowance to pay for your living expenses and is means-tested, based on your parents’ income . You do not need to pay this back. Use the Parental Income Calculator to help you work out if you could be eligible.

At the moment, the government pays for your first year of study through its fees-free scheme. If you need funds to pay for subsequent years, then you will need to apply for these annually.

Course fees are paid directly to the tertiary provider by StudyLink but the other funds come into your bank account every week.

Applying to StudyLink

You will need the following before beginning your online application:

  • An IRD code
  • A bank account
  • A Real Me account

Application process: First-Time Students

Studying away from home v. studying from home

It is cheaper to stay at home but that is not always possible, depending on the course you want to do. Some school leavers would rather stay locally but others want the away-from-home experience, so opt to move away to study. It is important to discuss this with your parents so you know what you can afford to do.