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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. With more Australians are up-skilling than ever before, can you afford not to join them?
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.
Whether you qualify with a master’s or complete a short course, 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.
There are a surprising number of ways to cut the cost of a degree:
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. It’s likely they will be able to 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.
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. As of January 2020, HECS and FEE-HELP have become the combined HELP loan, with a capped limit on your total loan. Find out if you’re eligible for FEE-HELP. If you aren’t able to defer tuition fees using FEE HELP, you can opt to pay your fees in instalments.
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