After Victoria University student Laura* pays for rent, power, internet and groceries, she's left with only $20 to $30 each week.
While students aren’t exactly known for being flush with cash, it’s an even bigger struggle to make ends meet through a cost of living crisis.
Laura, who is studying law and commerce, says she saves up the leftover money she has.
"Sometimes I treat myself to ice cream at the local dairy or one meal eating out, usually going for cheap options."
Laura isn't alone in her financial struggles - one in four New Zealanders are struggling to make ends meet at least once a month.
To help some of its students who are feeling the financial crunch, Victoria University recently announced a cost of living scholarship.
The university told Re: News it recognised an “urgent need to support students this year in the face of rising inflation and living costs”.
The one-off emergency cost of living scholarship aims to provide support for students in their second and third year of study.
Every donation people make towards the scholarship is matched by the university. More than $9000 has been donated so far.
The university says the full criteria and value of each scholarship will depend on the final amount raised.
Re: News spoke to some other Victoria University students about what it's like to study and survive in the middle of a cost of living crisis.
‘I just couldn’t afford anything’
Maria, a fourth year student, says it’s hard to make ends meet.
Maria was receiving $260 a week from a student loan but has recently had to increase it by $20.
“I just couldn't afford anything and my savings are running out.”
From that $280, she puts $250 towards rent.
She spends about $75 per week on groceries, she says.
“Sometimes it reaches $90 because of my allergies and price inflation.”
Maria is left in a deficit afterwards, leaving her with no choice but to ask her parents for help, which she says she hates doing.
She knows not every student is able to ask for extra help from parents.
“The scholarship would help me with my health problems as I can't receive government funding for my allergies to support the price of my alternative foods,” she says.
‘Sometimes I have nothing left’
Kelly is a post-grad student who used to study full-time, receiving living costs.
She’s recently changed to part-time, which means she is not eligible to receive the living cost payments and has to work to support herself.
“I switched to part-time but I’m basically operating full-time in order to get my thesis done,” she says.
Kelly works three shifts a week, making $300 after tax.
She pays $150 in rent as she shares a room. She gets $18 a week from Work and Income to contribute to her accommodation.
“By the time I pay for wifi, power and groceries, sometimes I have nothing left.”
’It’s hard, man’
Theresa, who studies at Victoria University but is based in the South Island for research purposes, has to pay out of pocket to use a co-working office space.
She receives $55 a week from Work and Income to help cover the cost of her rent.
Theresa is on a Māori student scholarship which pays her $29,500 a year tax-free.
Because she is on a scholarship she is only allowed to work a maximum of 10 hours per week which creates a barrier to making extra cash.
At the end of the week, after paying for her rent and co-working space, she has roughly $180 left, which is used to cover her car, power and internet, and other essentials like insurance, food and activities.
“It's hard man,” Theresa says.
“I don't know how you could afford to live in Wellington.”
*Surnames have not been used to protect the students’ privacy.
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“I thought maybe I'm being stupid for asking him to pay.”