How To Pay Off Your Course Fees Without Breaking The Bank

Studying is an important investment in your future and your earning potential. Thankfully, with a few changes to your budget and a choice of payment plans, it’s easy to balance your online course fees and minimise potential financial stress. In this blog post, we’ll chat about four easy tips you can use to help you pay off your course without breaking the bank.

1. Flexible and convenient course payment plans

When you’re choosing an education provider, pay attention to the total course fees and the available payment plans. For example, the College for Adult Learning provides generous payment plans with the flexibility to vary payments weekly, fortnightly or monthly according to your payroll cycle.

Here’s what you need to know about CAL’s easy payment plans:

  • Plans start from three months up to 18 months long
  • They can be tailored to your individual needs and financial circumstances
  • The shorter the plan and the sooner you pay off the plan, the cheaper it is
  • It’s a plan, not a loan, so there’s no interest or extra fees after the initial setup
  • If your financial circumstances change, you can pay off the entire balance with no extra fees
  • If you need to reduce payments due to financial stress, CAL will support you to find a solution that works

Tip: A tailored course payment plan is a convenient way to fit the extra cost of self-education into your household budget in a manageable way. Simply click the ‘Fees & Payment Options’ tab on the specific course page of the course you want to study.

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2. Easy household budgeting – how to embrace the ‘B’ word

We know budgeting can be boring. However, working out your financial situation is a helpful and empowering way to begin your learning journey. It can help you determine whether a one-off lump sum payment or payment plan suits you better and how to balance these costs with other household commitments.

Here’s how to work out your self-education finances:

  • Work out which of your household expenses are fixed (like rent, utilities, Spotify, etc.) and which are variable (like movies, eating out, clothes, etc.) and list them all
  • It can help to group these into monthly expense ‘buckets’ – for example:
    • 60% may be essentials (like rent or mortgage repayments)
    • 20% may be for splurging (like Spotify and eating out)
    • 20% may go into future you’s pocket (like savings and debt repayments)
  • Find the total cost of your course and the repayment options. Play with:
    • What would paying off a chunk of the course upfront look like?
    • What would adding the repayments to your other expenses look like?
    • Does one type of repayment suit you over the other?
  • If you’re worried about fitting everything in, get busy mining for gold:
    • Compare your bank with others. Are they giving you a good savings rate?
    • Can you reduce the cost of your insurance, utilities, or other regular payments?
    • Would replacing a weekly takeout meal or shopping trip give you the money to invest in your self-education?
    • Do you have any easy money wins you can capitalise on? For example, do you still use your gym membership, third streaming service or magazine subscription? If not, that money could be diverted into course payments.
    • Can you turn unused items into cash? For example, unused phones or technology, last season’s clothes, or the treadmill you’re using as a clothes rack.

Challenge yourself to remove the variable expenses you can and reduce at least three of your expenses by 15–20% to allow for self-education payments.

Tip: If you consider studying as an investment in yourself rather than an expense, you’ll be motivated to save for it.

3. Smart savings to get started with your course sooner

Consider setting yourself a savings goal. For example, you may want to save a specific dollar amount that will allow you to take advantage of an upfront discount plan. Here’s how that may work in practice:

  • Alex wants to enrol in her course in six weeks to correspond with the start of the new term
  • She needs to pay $1,495 of her course fees upfront to qualify for the upfront discount payment plan
  • Alex determines that $1,495 ÷ six weeks = $250 per week
  • However, Alex already has $700 in savings that she wants to put towards her course fees
  • She calculates that $1,495 – $700 ÷ six weeks = $132.50 per week
  • Alex sets up a savings account called “Studying” and transfers the $700 into this account
  • She creates an automated transfer to send $132.50 from her general account to her studying account every week for six weeks
  • At the end of six weeks, Alex enrols in her course with the upfront discount payment plan and ensures the automated payment is canceled
  • She makes sure the remaining monthly repayments of $110 fit into her budget

Alternatively, if you’d prefer to get started straight away or these steps feel too stressful, you can enrol with a payment plan and begin studying immediately.


You can also check out these resources for household savings tips:

  • Money Smart website
  • She’s On The Money podcast
  • The Barefoot Investor book
  • Google “best savings tips”

Tip: Setting the amount aside as a direct debit on payday will ensure you do not miss the savings or payment

4. Check if your course is a valid tax deduction

Many students find they are eligible to claim the course fee as a tax deduction. To check this out for yourself, visit the ATO website for further information.

Knowing your budget and course fees are under control will allow you to focus on completing your course for your satisfaction and benefit. Once you have your new qualification, you’ll never look back.

Tip: Always check with your accountant before claiming.