There are some major expenses that students have to meet, including fees (even if the payment is deferred), study resources, housing, utilities, food, and health. Most students will find they have some difficulty meeting these expenses at different points of their lives.
Fees are a major expense that all students must consider, even if it is a deferred payment like HECS. There are University and community based scholarships that are available each semester. Of course, you have to engage in a competitive process to get them, but it is definitely worth considering. Look at https://www.sydney.edu.au/scholarships/ for details.
The cost of textbooks, printing, materials for projects and assessments, and travel to classes and placements, can be very high in some subject areas. Take the time to look for secondhand material, or check what is available from the Uni and community libraries. You could also ask your subject coordinator what options they can think of. It may be worthwhile finding another student to share resources with. The University has a bursary program for specific and generalised purposes: https://www.sydney.edu.au/students/financial-support.html; as well as interest free loans that might be helpful to you.
For housing, Sydney is the 11th most expensive city in the world. The World Health Organisation recommends that you spend no more than 30% of your income on housing, with people who spend 50% or more of their income, considered to be in housing crisis. Unfortunately, there are not many options available for students. The University has a very limited range of affordable housing available, including rent scholarships (https://www.sydney.edu.au/study/accommodation.html). There are a few housing cooperatives in the community (https://www.commonequity.com.au/), including STUCCO (http://www.stucco.org.au/), which offer affordable housing in exchange for contributions of time and effort in maintaining that community. Again, vacancies are very difficult to find, but well worth investigating. It is highly recommended that you read and understand all of the conditions before signing or agreeing to an arrangement, contract or lease; and get receipts for all money paid, including rent, bills, deposit or bond. SRC Caseworkers can answer any questions that you have about your rights and responsibilities with your accommodation, so send an email with details of your situation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Electricity, gas, water, mobile phone and internet providers all have hardship teams that can help you with payment plans, or sometimes discounts that will help you to pay your bills. Draft a table with your income and all of your expenses so that you have a realistic idea of your financial health, then call their customer service team and speak to someone from their hardship department. Consider, also, what plan you are on, and if there is a different plan or a different provider that would be more appropriate for you. Please note that if you have difficulty negotiating with one of these providers you can contact the Ombudsman’s office: Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW or the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman.
There are lots of opportunities for free or cheap meals and groceries. While COVID has effected how this operates, there are specific pick up and deliveries still available. The Staples Bag and the Addison Road Pantry provide very affordable groceries for you to prepare into meals and snacks. The Newtown Neighbourhood Centre has many other food options to consider. You can also check your own local council or community groups to see what services they can provide.
There are lots of health services available in Australia for free or reduced prices. Most of these are restricted to domestic students, but international students should have access via their health insurance. If you are a “low income earner” (less than $571 per week), you may qualify for a low income health care card through Centrelink. This will entitle you to reduced prices on medicine, free ambulance, access to free dental and optical, and much more. There are also some services provided by final year students who need the clinical practice, while being supervised by qualified instructors, e.g., massage, physiotherapy, psychology, podiatry, and much more.
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