Spending Shakedown – Education & Training

Furthering your education can be quite costly. Some things are set, often fees and charges by the institution you choose to study at, but there are still some ways you can save money when it comes to your costs.

Education Fees

  • If you are at Uni or TAFE there is no discount for paying your fees upfront or paying your debt off faster
  • Study & training loans provided by the Australian Government aren’t charged interest, but they are subject to indexation
  • If you have other debt – personal loans, home loans, credit cards – it makes sense to pay them off before HELP and VSL loans
  • If you can’t access government assistance for your study costs, paying upfront will be the cheapest option
  • If your study relates to your current job ask if your company will assist with your study costs
  • You may be able to access some tax relief for education that relates to your current job role

University & TAFE – Student debt or pay upfront

The Australian government study assistance loans include the following:

  • Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)
  • VET Student Loan (VSL)
  • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
  • Student Start-up Loan (SSL)
  • ABSTUDY Student Start-up Loan (ABSTUDY SSL)
  • Trade Support Loan (TSL)

All the debts associating with post-school study, are not subject to interest, rather they are subject to indexation in line with CPI each year. You can find more about this at the ATO including past indexation rates.

If you are studying and have no other debt, you may wish to pay your costs upfront. However when paying off debt it makes sense to pay the debt off with the highest interest rates first, and chances are you won’t get an interest rate lower than indexation. So, we suggest that you don’t hold high-interest debt and repay Student loans, and you don’t pay your course fees upfront and go into debt for other things.

This information only applies to study & training loans provided by the Australian Government.

Non-University & TAFE courses

If you are in a position to pay for study upfront you should do so. If you need to take out a loan or use your credit card to pay for education costs that are not supported by government schemes we suggest you look for the lowest rate you can find. You can find more information about Loans and Loan types in the Spending Shakedown – Mortgages and Loans article.

If your study relates to your work

Some companies have policies to financially assist staff who are doing work-related study, while others may pay some or all of the costs if asked. If you are working to further your knowledge for your current role or to move into a new role with your company, it’s certainly worth asking the question.

If you are paying yourself, you may be able to claim a deduction at tax time if you are studying towards a formal qualification that relates to your current job role. You must have paid for the course yourself and it must:

  • maintain or improve the specific skills or knowledge you require in your current work activities
  • result in, or is likely to result in, an increase in your income from your current work activities

Read more information on the expenses you can claim at the ATO.

School & Tutoring

If you want information about fees or tutoring for school students we discuss this in our Spending Shakedown – Kids Article under School and Tutoring.

Education Supplies 


When it comes to Stationary OfficeWorks is our go-to. This is due to the Price Match Guarantee that gives you the cheapest price that you can find elsewhere less another 5%. The best thing about it is that you can also claim it if you’re shopping online.

Electronics – Computers, laptops, and tablets

Once you’ve decided on your budget, the specs, and the machine that you want, just a little bit of research can save you a large amount of money.

These are the things we think you need to research –

  • What you need, what’s available, and what the prices are
  • Find out how you can pay less than full price – wait for it to come on sale, negotiate the price, ask for a discount for paying cash, check to see if there are student prices available
  • Check the prices and features on slightly older models – they are often discounted quickly when replaced by newer models
  • If you work and can use your device there as well, ask your employer if you can salary sacrifice the item – then it may also be Fringe Benefits Tax and GST free
  • Use the discounted Gift Cards hack if you can for a quick 5-10% discount
  • Buy somewhere with a Best Price Guarantee or a Price Match Policy – Officeworks will give a 5% discount off the cheapest price you find elsewhere
  • Don’t forget Price Protection Insurance if you have it on your credit card

JB HiFi is generally our pick for software and electronics for their product range and their Price Matching policy. If you can find a Gift Card for a 5% discount, you can use this on top of the price match and get the cheapest price.

Electronics retailers and software manufacturers often have discounted student or academic licenses. If you are purchasing electronics for study,  take advantage of these special prices. As an example, you could pay $739 for Adobe Acrobat Pro 2017 or if you had a qualifying student in the family you could pay $169 for the Education version!

Another great option for software is to see if there is a free alternative to what you are looking for. For example, if you are looking for an Office type application (Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Presentation package) you could pay $199 for MS Office Home & Student 2019 or you could use the free Open Office alternative.

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