Sorry, Jessie J, but – this week – it’s all about the money.
Finances at university can be a huge source of stress for a lot of first-years (myself included), so I thought I’d take the time today to talk about different options you have regarding said finances when you get to university, and even before the fact. We’re talkin’ scholarships, StudyLink, secondhand books (seen in the vid above), and… part time jobs. (The alliteration got away from me at the end there.)
This section could almost be split into three subheadings – University of Auckland scholarships, external/independent scholarships, and NZQA Scholarship exams. UoA offers a great deal of schollies for first-years, with differing values, if only you know where to look. (In this case, I’ve done the work for you. Here’s a link to info about general school-leaver and first-year scholarships, and here’s a link to a cheeky search I did for entry-level scholarships in different faculties.) Applications for these close between August and October, so make sure you get on that if you’re so inclined! However, UoA isn’t the only place to look for scholarships – there are loads of companies or trusts that offer them and these are usually to be found either through your secondary school or with a trusty little Google search. I can’t help you out much there, but these scholarships can be invaluable if you get onto them because often the pool isn’t as large (obviously this is dependant on what you’re going for) – which means you’re in with a better chance! Another scholarship option that you’re likely more familiar with is NZQA Scholarship exams. These rely on your school facilitating them, but they’re a good option to consider if you’re strong academically and can put in the effort to study for more exams at the end of the year. (For more on scholarships, head over to Sonna’s blog post – she covered it in much more depth than I have here!)
If you’re anything like I was at this point last year, you’ll see the words “student loan” and want to scream, cry, and run for the hills. However, student loans are interest-free at the moment, so they’re actually not as scary an option as one might think – and they’re a reality for most, if not all, students. How much of a loan you take out is a personal preference, but there’s an upper limit, so be strategic and keep your eye on EFTS! (But don’t be afraid of taking out a student loan. You can get a part-time job and pay part of it towards your student loan as you’re studying so that you’re chipping away at the “crippling student debt” that people are always talking about. Hint: it’s not as crippling if you’re on top of things and know what you’re doing with it.) But student loans aren’t the only thing you can get through StudyLink! Depending on your parents’ income, you may be eligible for a student allowance, and you can also click here for some information on course-related costs. University is expensive, and there’s absolutely no shame in taking assistance where you need it.
Part-time jobs are surprisingly easy to find in the Bright Lights, Big City – you’ve just got to look for them. One pro tip would be to keep tabs on the social media profiles of businesses you’re a big fan of – everything from massive cultural landmarks to tiny Newmarket eateries, because oftentimes job vacancies will be advertised on Instagram or somewhere similar. What I like about my current job is that the hours are flexible, because it means I can adjust my work schedule according to what the rest of my life is doing, which makes me a very happy camper indeed. But getting a part-time job while at university can be a great step to take because –
- you’ll be earning money, which you can
- put into a KiwiSaver account or use to pay off your student loan
- use to buy whatever you want/need snacks- or concert-wise
- spend instead of spending money you’d saved for necessities (to continue previous point)
- part-time jobs can turn into full-time jobs over summer if you play your cards right
Plus, a few hours a week at work is really nothing when you consider how much down-time there is at university (in terms of hours not spent studying or actually in class).
Those were just a few tips and tricks that I thought you might find useful going into your first year at university – hope they’re helpful (and, as always, feel free to leave a comment with any additional questions you’ve got)!