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Fees Free

Fees Free is a scheme for people starting tertiary study or training for the first time. You can apply for this before applying for a Student Loan to avoid any unnecessary debt.

To find out if you’re eligible, enter your National Student Number (NSN) into the Fees Free website. If you don’t know your NSN, you can ask your school or contact the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

Student Loan

Student loans are designed to help you pay for course fees, living costs and study materials which you’ll have to pay back later. You don’t need to be studying full-time to get one, but there’s a minimum number of study hours required. Find out more about Student Loans on the StudyLink website.

You’ll also need to start paying your student loan once you earn over a certain amount a year. There are different rules if you spend time overseas, such as having to pay interest on your loan.

Find out how long it’ll take to pay back your student loan using the student loan repayment calculator on the Inland Revenue website.

The Sorted website has some great tips for minimising your loan debt and the following video gives some good tips for paying off your student loan:

Video transcript available for Student loan tips from across the ditch Open Close
Student loan tips from across the ditch

Person 1: It was definitely out of sight, out of mind paying off my student loan. I went travelling, didn't think about it, it popped in my head a few times, but I was like I'll worry about it when I get home.

Person 2: When I first left New Zealand and took the repayment holiday, I didn't know about the free online transfer payments.

Person 3: Being able to go on the myIR site and they've got the current balance of your loan, and how many repayments you've made - and see how far I've got left to go.

Person 4: Definitely get a myIR account, because that way you can keep your details up to date and keep informed about how much you owe.

Person 1: It was really good dealing with Inland Revenue when I called them. They were really friendly, so helpful. They didn't make me feel guilty for not paying any of my student loans.

Person 2: I find it really useful that they're able to contact me and I'm able to contact them so easily, because when I have a problem, especially when it's about money, it can be quite stressful. And, I found that every time I've had an issue they've been able to deal with it really smoothly.

Person 3: My advice in hindsight, would definitely be to pay off your student loan if you can in regular instalments. Just a little bit monthly really helps towards those end of year compulsory repayments.

Person 1: When I've paid off my student loan, I'm going to start saving for a house or another big trip. It's going to feel really good.

Person 3: Might go on a few extra surf trips, go up to Indonesia, enjoy myself a bit more you know. I think there'll definitely be a celebration once I pay off my student loan. And then I'll look forward to seeing that money go into my savings.

Student Allowance

The Student Allowance is a weekly payment you may be able to get while studying full-time to help you pay for accommodation, food, clothes and other daily expenses.

You don’t need to pay it back, but not all people are eligible to receive it.

If you are eligible, how much you get depends on how much you or your parents earn, or your living situation. Information on the Student Allowance can be found on the StudyLink website. Make sure you apply as early as possible to get your payments on time.


If you’re going into tertiary study, scholarships can help cover costs such as your course fees, some of them for multiple years. There are a variety of scholarships you can look out for and can be based on factors such as:

  • Your performance at school.
  • The region you live in.
  • Your financial circumstances.
  • The industry or trade you’re interested in.
  • Specific scholarships for Māori and Pasifika students.

There are a huge number of scholarships that aren’t claimed every year, so it’s worth looking into what’s available. A good place to start is to look at the website of where you’re planning to study. You can also try websites such as Careers NZ, Generosity or StudySpy. There are also scholarships for Māori learners and scholarships for Pasifika learners.

Working while you study

Working while studying can be useful in many ways: you make money, you gain lasting skills, it can reduce your loan debt, and you can sometimes earn a qualification. You can find part-time work in various places and if you’re studying, a good place to look is Student Job Search.

Once you’ve got a job, make sure your contract includes the right information so you get taxed correctly. You can also apply for exemptions from paying back your Student Loan while you’re working and studying.