Student Living Below the Poverty Line

Recently the ABC has released a report saying what we all already knew: many students are living below the poverty line. The ‘poor uni student’ stereotype is the reality. We even have the statistics to back it up…

  • More than 66 per cent of students report being worried about their financial situation
  • 17 per cent of students regularly go without food or other necessities
  • 50 per cent of students are in a personal budget deficit
  • 25 per cent of employed students work more than 20 hours per week
  • 2 in 3 students are living below the poverty lineSource: Universities Australia’s 2012 survey of university student finances, National Union of Students


Students are struggling to find jobs. They’re being unceremoniously dumped by Centrelink, kept on hold for hours at a time, or having their claims processed months after the semester has started… They’re living with their parents to keep costs down.

Throw in a disadvantaged background, mental health conditions or family obligations and it’s extremely difficult for students to cover costs.

“This is more than just a few kids doing it tough — it’s an issue of national concern,” Emma King, the CEO of the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), says.

The Student Assist team at FUSA deals with these types of issues on a daily basis. If you’re doing it tough, we want to help. Make sure you take full advantage of all the services we offer, including…

Financial Advocacy:

The Student and Financial Advocacy Officer (SFAO) is a fully qualified financial counsellor who can help you organise your finances and making a budget, identify government assistance (e.g. Centrelink and concessions), negotiating repayment arrangements, explaining debt recovery procedures and bankruptcy, applying for a hardship variation on any loans, and referring you to other services.

Emergency Financial Assistance: Student Assist can help you out with supermarket vouchers, food parcels and metro cards. Make an appointment with Student Assist by calling (08) 8201 2371 and read the information on our website.

Interest Free Loans:

FUSA can provide you with Interest Free Loans of up to $500. Need cash? Make an appointment with Student Assist by calling (08) 8201 2371 and read the information on our website.

Second Semester Grants:

Individual grants of $500 are available to students in second year or higher to assist with study-related expenses. If you’re facing financial difficulty, keep an eye on the website or the FUSA newsletter (if you’re not receiving it, become a member for fortnightly updates).

Free FUSA Brunch:

We run ‘Free FUSA Brunch’ several times a week, with locations varying. Check the events page on Facebook or on our website for times and locations. As well as your usual breakfast foods, we also give out food you can take home and cook for dinner.

FUSA Says Relax:

There’s even more free stuff at our ‘FUSA Says Relax’ events. You’ll find fun things like music and massages, but there is also hairdressing (usually), stationery and more food. Again, you can find days and times on Facebook or on our website.

Welfare Events:

FUSA’s Student Council includes a Welfare Officer. This year, it’s the wonderful Hilary Wigg. She’ll be organising welfare events and initiatives throughout the year. Coming up, we have Soup-er Swotvac — where Student Council will be giving out free soup to keep you sustained while you’re studying for exams and finishing off final assessments.


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