In my last, last blog post I mentioned how the General Education Course I took in my first semester was all about accounting and understanding personal finances – so this week I thought I’d put my (very unqualified) accountant hat on and talk about money!

But, unfortunately, I’m not going to be talking about money in the favourable way: money coming in. Instead I’m going to be talking about the inevitable action of money going out. Because, and there’s no easy way to put it : university costs money. And so does living. So how much does university really cost? And how can we fund our time at university?

I’ve compiled a list of costs and ways to fund your time at university, but note that I can’t list everything! And remember, almost all of this is entirely situational, dependent on your family circumstances, fee status, travel, place of residence, the list is endless. So please, take this all with a grain of salt!


1. Tuition Fees

One of your main expenses at university will be tuition fees. For a domestic undergraduate, tuition fees can range from around $6000 to $11000 a year depending on what degree, course major or specialisation you take. And if you’re eligible, that comes to a nice big, fat, tidy $0 in your first year because of the fees free policy.

2. Living Expenses

If you’re from outside of Auckland, having a place to live will most likely be your biggest cost. As a first year, you’ll most likely be living in a catered Hall of Residence which costs around $400 a week, or around $15000 a year. This includes everything from your room to food, WIFI, laundry facilities and all the essential things.

3. Travel

For those of you who are born and bred in Auckland and are planning on staying for your university years, travel will be one of the main costs. Unlike the five minute walk those living in Halls of Residence, your commute can range in time and price – so all I can really say is to make sure you get a Tertiary Concession on your AT Hop Card if you plan on public transporting yourself to and from university.

This is not to say that there are no travel expenses for those coming from outside of Auckland – because you are doing just that: coming from outside of Auckland. Therefore, you need to account for travel back home, especially if you’re planning on going back during times such as the inter-semester break.

4. Coffee

It adds up, really! Buying food out can really take a toll on your bank balance – so if you need to save making your own lunch is probably a good choice (but let’s face it, it’s not really the tastier option).

5. Everything Else

Gifts, clothes, haircuts, memberships. The list could go on and on (but I won’t).


1. Fees Free

If you qualify – make sure you get in before the deadline. Fees Free takes a burden off your shoulders in first year by providing you with your tuition fees, so don’t miss out (I’ve heard of people missing the deadline, so make sure it is at the top of your to do list). Its super simple to sort out, just head to for all the details.

2. Scholarships

Apply, apply, apply. I’m 100% sure you all know what scholarships are, so all I’m going to say on this matter is to make sure you apply for every single scholarship you are eligible for. It might seem like a possible waste of time when applying, but you’ve got to be in it to win it! Those few hours spent writing up an application could lead to a few thousand dollars – that’s a pretty darn good hourly rate.

3. Work

I mean, it’s pretty self-explanatory isn’t it. Let’s just move on.

4. Loan

There will be very few (if any) moments in your life where you’ll be able to borrow money with an interest rate of 0%. So, if you need to, go ahead – you’d be with the majority of students in Aotearoa who end up taking out a student loan to fund their studies. Like the fees free, it is super easy to apply to get – just go to where they have all the details.

And while you’re there, take a look and see if you are eligible for a student allowance. It is prorata-ed, which means those from less well-off families have access to more funding. This means that everybody should be able to come to university, no matter of what financial position you are in now.

All in all, money shouldn’t act as a burden at university – there is always a way!