Have you been thinking about enrolling in a university degree? Have you thought of the average cost of university?
It might seem like the logical next step in your education, but it certainly pays to weigh up all of your options before you commit to three or four years of full-time study that also comes with a hefty price tag.
The average cost of university
For a four-year undergraduate university degree, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 000 – $45 000 in course fees. And that’s not including more specialised degrees such as veterinary or medical which the average cost of university is significantly more than that.
While the cost of undergraduate degree courses vary depending on what you study and which university you attend, The University of Queensland and The University of Newcastle both offer lists of indicative undergraduate fees for Australian students so you can get an idea of the amount of money you can expect to pay.
Of course, domestic students can access FEE-HELP for approved units of study with an approved provider, meaning that you don’t need to pay these fees up-front. However, you will need to start making compulsory repayments once your income reaches $51,957 (for the 2018-2019 income year). There is no interest charged on HELP debts, but the accumulated amount is subject to yearly indexation.
If you change your mind partway through your degree, you still need to pay the fees you’ve accumulated so far too. According to a report from the Grattan Institute, more than 50 000 students who started university in Australia this year will drop out. The same report stated that students pay, on average, $12 000 for their incomplete course.
Why you should consider a Vocational Education and Training (VET) course
If you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, you definitely need a university degree to do it. But, if your career options lie elsewhere, you need to consider if university study really is your best option especially when you take the average cost of university into account.
The standard time to complete an undergraduate degree is three to four years, while a VET course can take from six months to two years to complete. Upon completion of a VET course, your employment options might be greater too. A report from Skilling Australia found that up to 67% of university students find work after graduation, whereas 78% of VET graduates, and 92% of VET graduates who studied as part of an apprenticeship, are able to find work after completing their studies. Consequently, if you choose a VET course you can start working and earning money in your chosen field sooner.
The fees for VET courses are considerably less too. Payment plans, scholarships and government funding schemes all help to relieve some of the financial burden.
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