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How to make postgraduate study more affordable

Wouldn’t you love to go back to uni and not have to worry about the cost? Postgraduate study might be more affordable than you think. There are ways to cut the cost of a degree and offset your study expenses. And if you weigh up the benefits of upskilling, the value of a postgraduate degree is clear.

Did you know you can start studying at Deakin this July? Find out about postgraduate course options

Investing in yourself

While educating yourself further may not seem like a tangible investment, having a postgrad degree can help you make a very tangible career leap.

Already working in your chosen field? The benefits could start before you’ve even finished the degree. Upskilling puts you in a better position for a promotion, secondment or extra responsibility on the job.

Postgraduate study can also increase your chance of securing work. It goes without saying that postgraduates stand out as candidates. But there’s another benefit – postgraduate study helps to widen your professional community and can lead to you hearing about opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Salary is the big one. A master’s degree has the potential to boost your salary. You’re more qualified and confident to shoot for a job that you might normally dismiss as out of your league. Having a higher degree can also bolster you when negotiating a pay rise.

Cut the total cost

There are a surprising number of ways to cut the cost of a degree:

  • Prior learning credit: Do you already have experience in your discipline? You may qualify for prior learning credit. Each unit carries its own cost, and with credit for units previously completed, you could potentially skip some units. This mean the less units you need to complete, the lower your final total.
  • Scholarships: There are a range of scholarships out there which can also offset the cost of your degree, so it pays to research your options. While you shouldn’t rely on receiving a scholarship for your budgeting, you’ve got to be in it to win it, and the time it takes to apply for one could be time well spent. If you studied an undergraduate degree at Deakin, there is also the possibility that you qualify for Deakin’s Alumni Bursary.
  • Professional development: If you’re already working in the field, approach your employer with a proposal for postgraduate study as professional development. It’s not uncommon for postgraduate students to have a cost-sharing arrangement with their employer. Upskilling is a benefit to the workplace, so it’s worth asking.
  • Claim it on tax: A game changer for you could be the tax benefits if you’re a domestic student. There’s a chance you can claim your study costs on tax, including the full enrolment fee. The ATO can advise on claiming study expenses, but broadly, if your intended course is upskilling and directly relates to your work, you might qualify.
  • Government subsidies: It’s a rarity, but check to see if your intended degree is a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP). Although most postgraduate degrees are full fee paying, there are the odd few that the Federal Government has chosen to subsidise.

Managing study expenses

Even if you successfully bring down your enrolment cost, you’ll still need to budget for the incidentals. These can include Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF), books, internet and childcare. Again, you may be able to claim these costs on tax so check with the ATO.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the cost of postgraduate study, ask the university for advice. Deakin offers help with budgets and can point you in the right direction for support. The Financial Assistance office provides interest-free loans for study expenses to help you stay on track.

If it’s a short-term situation, emergency help is available in the way of practical support such as a Myki to keep you coming to campus. If you’re experiencing hardship, you can also apply for a grant, which doesn’t need to be paid back.

Finding the time for postgraduate study can be tricky, but if you find the juggle between work and postgraduate study is too much and have had to give up work, you may be able to get ongoing support from Centrelink. See if your intended course qualifies.

Ways to pay

While most postgraduate coursework degrees are full-fee paying, that doesn’t mean you have to pay it all upfront.

If you studied your undergraduate degree as a domestic student, you probably already know about HECS. Did you know there’s a HECs equivalent for postgraduate study? FEE HELP works on the same premise as HECS – the Federal Government covers your tuition fees as a loan and you pay it back through tax once you reach a taxable income threshold (currently $55,874 for the 2017-18 financial year). Find out if you’re eligible for FEE HELP.

Deakin also has a very handy FEE-HELP repayment calculator to help you work out how much of your salary will be deducted before tax from each pay cycle, and how long it will take to repay your FEE-HELP loan.

If you aren’t able to defer tuition fees using FEE HELP, you can opt to pay your fees in instalments.

There’s still time to apply to start studying at Deakin in July. Get started by finding out about our postgraduate course options.  

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