Tommy used to work on the docks. Gina used to work in a diner. And, despite all the mayhem, you’re thinking about being a uni student. Because, hey, it might just be best way of ensuring 2020 isn’t a complete write-off. Livin’ on a Prayer is more than a 1986 stadium rock anthem; it’s a way of life – the student life.

You’re going to love it. 10 years from now you’ll be reminiscing with a friend about the time the fridge was so bare you dunked a scotch finger in water because you couldn’t bear to eat it dry for breakfast. Yep, even pre-Corona such tales were a proudly worn badge of honour for uni students – the world over.

The student life has always been one of a miser, a penny pincher, a budget demon. You need to become an absolute thrift-bot, and we’re here to help.  

Take the juice and keep on walkin'.

Get yourself a side hustle

Uni is all about preparing you for the career you want. A big part of that is actually getting you into work.

The upside of most retail jobs being temporarily suspended? You can stall that gig in promotions where you’ll be forced to don a gorilla suit, dance, and doll out free ice-cold bottles of Super Gorilla JuiceTM. Until that sobering moment, why not start your very own side hustle? Everything changes when everything changes. And that means there are new opportunities and markets emerging. So why not put the time you would’ve spent sweating in a gorilla suit into developing your own business idea or social movement (and imagine how much better it’ll look on your CV).

But work can also be more than a side hustle. At Swinburne you can get yourself into a professional placement where you can get paid for six to 12 months of full-time work as part of your degree. Yes… that’s true! And as soon as the current government regulations are relaxed, you’ll be able to jump right into it.

All you need to do is remember to cut your own hair the day before you start. That’s dollars in the bank.

If you’re a full-time student or apprentice (and eligible) you could access Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY. And right now, these come with an additional $550 fortnightly ‘coronavirus supplement’

Sure, life on the docks is a struggle but with these tips, you’ll make it, we swear. Want to know more about being a student and what Swinburne has to offer? Visit Swintopia right now – it’s Swinburne, but in pixels. 

It doesn’t have be this way.

To spreadsheet hell and back

You were already worried about managing your finances as a student. Then the global economy and life as we knew it decided to hit that big-red pause button. But, there are plenty of ways you can still make your study dream a reality in 2020 – starting with a budget that’s as tight as Bon Jovi’s leather pants.

A budget is all about control, it’s about seeing exactly what comes in and what, despairingly, goes out. And now, more than ever, you’ll know that every buck counts.

Thankfully, there’s heaps of budgeting tools out there that are simple… and you might even find them fun (if you’re that way inclined).

A great starting point is Moneysmart’s budget planner. It’s your entry-level budgeting tool… it’s so easy to use it hurts. Also, it’s free!

Swinburne also has free services that can help you keep your finances in order. You can even find out how you can get paid to study (really! Hint - look for Centrelink on the page).

You can also reduce your costs through scholarships, concessions and grants for financially disadvantaged students. And, if you want a quick appraisal of your financial health, you can take this quiz.  

This is what finding a bargain eat feels like.


Now that you’re on a budget, you need to make an art of finding cheap eats. Your simplest, most sustainable and socially-distancing appropriate option? Get your cook on at home.

Lentils and legumes are your friend. They’re filling, healthy and easy on the wallet too (though maybe not as easy on your housemates). Do big cook ups and freeze the leftovers. There are heaps of online recipes to explore, with many under $5 a serve.

And for when we all get back out in the world, you can start with cashies at your local market (hint: Prahran Market has a grocer that’ll let you pile up a massive box of veggies for $15). Disclaimer: other markets exist.

In Abbotsford, just a suburb over from our main campus in Hawthorn, Lentil As Anything is a pay-what-you-feel restaurant. Right now, they’re still pay-what-you-feel, but it’s just takeaway and delivery on offer.

Hawthorn though is the heart of cheap eats if you’re a Swinburne student. There’s $5-6 banh mi, $10 bento boxes and $11 fish and chips, there’s burger deals for under $15, and then there’s the deli right near Glenferrie Station selling bespoke baguettes for as little as $6 – there’s no purer nom-age. And, if you’re studying in the 24-hour Latelab there are plenty of fast food options that’ll keep you motoring through. If you’re worried about your expensive goji berry addiction then you need to find out how you can eat well on a budget.

Can’t beat Lido Cinema for green couches and good vibes – check out their rooftop!

Live your life by the yellow sticker

There are two phases of life when you can score just about everything at a discounted price.

One is when you’re old and possess inexplicable charm (and a seniors card). The other is when you’re a student and life’s all about letting the good times roll – there’s just one problem, a moth flies out of your wallet every time you open it. 

Here are some sweet discounts you’ll soon be able to get as a Swinburne student, starting with $8 movie tix at the awesome independent cinema, LIDO on Glenferrie Rd. Then there’s free use of the pool at the Hawthorn Leisure and Aquatic Centre, which also has a gym and other facilities students can get deals on. 

Strap yourself in, there’s more. Cheap train tix? Yep. Free legal advice? Ah ha. Discounts on textbooks? Would be rude if we didn’t.   

You might also be eligible for a Low Income Health Care Card.

If you’re feeling lucky, it’s just worth flashing your student ID at shops along Glenferrie road, you never know what kinds of deals you might snag. 

Financial help is never far away at Swinburne.

You’re never alone: Support services

If you’re experiencing financial hardship while you’re studying at Swinburne, we’ll support you.

Firstly, if your financial situation is affecting your health, we have medical, counselling and psychological services available to students.

If your laptop gives you the black screen treatment or your fridge goes boom, then you can apply for no-interest loans for essential items through Swinburne and our partners.

The Swinburne Foodbank offers support for those struggling to afford groceries.

And, we have student equity advisers who can help you with everything from applying for loans and grants, to help with Centrelink, emergency financial assistance, payment plans, your tax return and budgeting.

  • Swintopia

    Swinburne goes pixel! Visit our alternate campus reality, meet the locals, and complete a few quests.

6 Things Every Uni Student Should Try

Tell me more

What is a recession-proof career?

Watch Now