Students can go back to study at any year in any stage of life, with more and more mature age students seeking new skills and experience at uni.

You might just be thinking that your skills are no longer current, so you want to get into contact with a new career and apply for some new work.

Technically any student over 25, around 40% of students currently seeking entry to university or who currently find themselves exploring their study options fall into this group.

Undergraduate and postgraduate alike, across Australia, people are going back to education. They may want to gain new skills, change careers, or just find learning very enjoyable.

But before you go back to your studies, seek the support of online or on campus university services to work out where you will study, especially if you're one of the thousands of applicants applying to university every year.

A university is also a business as well as a tertiary learning experience, so those mature age students considering this new and special move do also need to think about the cost of their studies in their current search, especially if they've already got current work and career requirements.

How expensive is it to go back to school in Australia then? And what funding is available?

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How Much Does it Cost Back to Go Back to School?

Generally the application process is free, as the university education support services will tell you.

In fact, you will find as soon as you apply for your tertiary education course or courses that you won't have to front up any money. However, university is not free and not everyone is eligible for the same level of support. 

Nevertheless, there are financial management systems in place for those with families and special circumstances to facilitate entry to uni and have a smooth time during your learning experience.

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Having some money handy will make going back to study a lot easier.

As we've mentioned, returning to study isn't free. This is because there is an assumption you can support yourself, having come from the workforce. Make sure you search this carefully before beginning your studies.

With that in mind though, you won't be charged more as a mature age student, paying the same as everyone else. In fact, if you do have some disposable income, consider paying a portion up front to get a discount on the overall degree - thus reducing the amount you have to pay back later.

Thankfully most universities in Australia are also public, which means they fall into the HECS system. This is the federal government funded support scheme that guarantees no undergraduate student has to pay the entirety of their degree, least of all up front. However, this loan scheme, whilst applying to postgraduate study, is simply a loan, and doesn't cover any course costs as it does in undergrad.

Private institutions are smaller and probably won't entitle you to financial support either, so bear in mind that this you'll have to pay yourself.

There are obviously scholarships too, so see if you're eligible for this. You might not think so, but in many cases people simply don't apply, so you can end up with the bursary in the end.

Whilst there are options, it's still best to save some money before going back to school since it is very draining to work and study, especially if you do either or both full time.

Don't let this dampen your determination though - if you're willing, you're able. The university experience is always rewarding.

Find out the benefits of being a mature student.

Government Funding for Students

Mature students are able to apply for student finance and the amount you’ll get will depend on the course you’re studying and your family situation.

If you're a family with children for instance, you're likely to get subsidised support through free kindergarten, public transport etc.

If you're also the breadwinner in your couple or family, there is similar funding available for this. Contact the university support services on campus about this, both in terms of your study and financial options.


What finance options are there for mature students?
There's a variety of finance options available for mature-aged students. (Source: ISDiva)

The principal financial support options are:

  • Student loans.
  • Bursaries.
  • Scholarships.

All the resources are there for you to balance work and a career and studying, if you're doing both part time. Even if you're attending a university course online you can be entitled to these too, since the tuition and associated learning costs are around the same.

Most universities in Australia also have similar course prices and costs so you just have to apply to the course you want the most.

Discover more about your options as a mature student.

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Now there is sometimes an age limit imposed on student loans by the government, but also sometimes not.

The benefit of these is incredibly low interest, but given that the government already covers direct course costs and tuition fees, it is not always a given that you'll get one.

You should in any case to see if you can access one of these, some, like with HECS, you don't have to start paying back until you cross a certain earning threshold.

For those who don't qualify for this, there is always a bank loan.

This is not highly recommended as there are other options available, and you can always study part time and work the rest.

However, if you're in a real hurry and want to offset your savings during study, this could be a viable option, Just be careful as these have normal interest imposed on them, and can be difficult to manage if you're not working.

Another viable option if you are working is to ask your employer if they will fund your education as this kind of improvement of your skills can be of direct benefit to the business.

Many companies do in fact offer this sort of incentive for a semester at a time, or sometimes part time for the duration of your degree.

For those wanting help with how to manage the next steps in their professional life, check out a personal development coach near you.

More Information: Funding from Your Employer

Having staff who continually up-skill can be a real financial asset for a company, so they may invest in external training programs for their employees.

Whilst this is not always the case, it doesn't hurt to ask and shows initiative in the future of the business as much as it does initiative about your own learning.

How can mature students fund their studies?
Some companies will pay student fees so that they can upskill their employees (Source: rawpixel)

This doesn't just apply to large companies either - smaller firms and offices can see the benefit in having a reduced but highly skilled workforce. Don't expect the answer to be an immediate yes, but once again, this kind of initiative can be well regarded.

Find out about the reality of what it's like being a mature student.

Funding Your Own Studies

When all else fails, you can rely on yourself to fund your return to study. 

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and often you don't notice the difference until you have to start paying back your HECS/student loan (which typically doesn't happen until you're earning full time anyway).

As mentioned above, working part time can help reduce this burden somewhat, as can doing one or two classes at night to help facilitate this. A full time study load can be a lot for anyone, but working alongside can make things even more of a struggle.

If you've got a long term mentality, it's really worth saving even enough just for a semester so that you can really commit and give yourself a leg up.

Don't feel demotivated if disposable income isn't readily available - there are plans for all budgets and lifestyles that can make sure you get the education you want.

Can you fund your own studies as a mature student?
If you have savings, you can put some of it towards funding your studies (Source: Olichel)

Find personal development courses near me.

Superprof is your one stop shop for finding someone to help you navigate this new and special time.

There are life coaches, financial planning gurus, personal development experts, all near you and able to help you with this. They can come to campus, your home, or even offer you tutorials online.

Beyond this, Superprof also has specialised subject area tutors who can help you deal with the mental and academic load of university study.

If you're working part time or full time alongside your studies, sometimes the information just doesn't sink in, so it can be good to just talk about the topic with someone to help consolidate your knowledge and understanding.

These individuals charge a variety of rates to suit your budget and mobility. For instance, if you have a full schedule of study, work, and child minding, they can easily come to your home or meet you online.

Depending on your needs, they will also be able to adjust their prices accordingly. They may need to do more preparation to be up to speed with what you're studying, which will bump the price up, but on the other hand, they may lower their prices if you book a block of classes in bulk.

Consider your learning goals carefully, as well as your budget and time commitments.

Then, there's nothing stopping you starting your new academic journey!


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