Ways to pay for study

Don't let the cost of education put you off studying – there are lots of ways to study for free or get funding to reduce your tuition fees.

This page gives an overview of the ways you can fund your study with us. There’s a range of government schemes to encourage people of any age to upskill and retrain for high-demand industries and to cover costs for your first year of tertiary study in any subject. There are schemes to encourage young people to continue their education once they leave school, and there is also a wide range of public and private scholarships that could help pay your study costs or your accommodation costs.

The government is investing in NZ’s education to remove barriers to tertiary education and to fill skill-shortage areas. Let them invest in you so you can gain a qualification that gives you recognised skills and greater job opportunities.

Free study

Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF)

TTAF means that all apprenticeships are fully funded for domestic students until the end of 2022, as well as certificates and diplomas from Levels 3 to 7 in targeted high-demand industries.

Find out what you can study through TTAF at Otago Polytechnic >

If the programme you apply for is included in the TTAF, we’ll organise your fees with the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

What else do I need to know?

  1. If you enrol in and complete a TTAF programme for free, this doesn’t impact on, or use up, your entitlement to a year of Fees Free funding if you haven’t already taken this up (as long as you meet the eligibility criteria – see below). 
  2. Additional course-related costs (for example, textbooks or equipment) are not covered by TTAF so you may want to apply to StudyLink for a student loan or allowance for course-related costs. More information about additional costs can be found on each of our programme information sheets.

See more TTAF FAQs on the TEC website >

Youth Guarantee

The Youth Guarantee scheme provides free tertiary study for nominated programmes at level 2 and 3, if you're aged 16 to 19 (in some cases 15) and if you haven't already studied at Level 2 or Level 3.

Spaces are limited, so apply early. We’ll offer you the funding if there are spaces available in the programme and you’re the right age.

Find out what you can study via the Youth Guarantee scheme >


First year free study

Fees Free

Fees Free means your first year of tertiary study could be free (up to $12,000/120 credits) if you’ve never been enrolled in tertiary study over 60 credits at Level 3 or higher in New Zealand (or equivalent overseas).

All the details and criteria are on the Fees Free website. There's an eligibility-checker tool where you can enter your National Student Number (NSN) to see if you’re entitled to funding.

If you are eligible, we’ll organise your fees with the Tertiary Education Commission when you're enrolled to study with us.

Click here to go to the Fees Free website to check your eligibility >

Also...Year 12 and Year 13 students can study with us through initiatives such as Otago Secondary-Tertiary College and still be eligible for Fees Free later, and you can undertake free study via the Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund and still be eligible for Fees Free! 

Costs not covered by Fees Free

The Fees Free scheme does not include costs outside of your tuition fees.

For example, you will need to pay for your:

  • accommodation
  • living costs (for example, food and electricity)
  • textbooks or equipment, etc.


Money towards study costs

Scholarships (for domestic students)

There are a lot of scholarships available. They all have different eligibility criteria related to what you want to study and your background and situation. See what's available well before you intend to begin studying because all the scholarships have different application deadlines and can be very popular.

TIP: Start searching for scholarships early so you don’t miss the deadlines!

What happens to your scholarship if you qualify for TTAF, Youth Guarantee or Fees Free?

If you don’t need your scholarship for your first-year study fees, you can:

OPTION 1: Use up to $4,000 towards accommodation at the Central Otago student accommodation (if you’re studying at Central Campus) or at Te Pā Tauira - Otago Polytechnic Student Village (if you’re studying in Dunedin).

Note: You need to let StudyLink know if you’re using your scholarship towards accommodation costs. StudyLink views this as income and it may impact your student allowance.

OPTION 2: Defer your scholarship so that it's applied to your second-year study fees.

Note: If you have a three-year full fees scholarship or you're studying a one-year programme, you can’t defer your scholarship - but you can use your scholarship for course-related costs reimbursements up to $2,000 (incl. GST).

See more about the scholarships available >


Scholarships (for international students)

We have scholarships available for international students studying postgraduate diploma, graduate diploma, bachelor, New Zealand diploma and certificate programmes at any of our three campuses or a master's degree at our Auckland campus. 

See more about the scholarships that are available > 


StudyLink student loan or student allowance 

You can still apply to StudyLink for a student loan, a student allowance and course-related costs. This is only available for domestic students.

Student Loan

You can get a Student Loan to pay your study fees, your course-related costs and your living costs. If none of the other options on this page are relevant to you, you should consider applying to StudyLink for a student loan to pay for your study.

Note: You have to pay StudyLink back for any money you borrow for fees, living costs and course-related costs - but not until you have a full-time job.

Student Allowance

You may be eligible for a Student Allowance. You don’t need to repay a Student Allowance as it is not considered part of your loan. Check the criteria for an allowance before you apply for Student Loan living costs. This is important to ensure that you don’t borrow more than you need to.

Check your eligibility with StudyLink and Work and Income

The StudyLink website has an eligibility test and further information about the options available to you.

Go to the StudyLink website to check your eligibility and to apply for a student loan and/or student allowance >


We're here to help!

Talk to us if you have any questions about your study finances. Phone us on 0800 765 9276 or email us at central@op.ac.nz


Now you've got all the facts about how to study for free or for less ...