How to Study in New Zealand for Free (10 Steps)

Are you looking for a chance to study abroad? New Zealand offers such opportunities to students like you provided you meet various criteria. As a relatively small country compared to the superpowers, it is often overlooked as an ideal study destination. The fact that it neighbors Australia also doesn’t help the situation since the latter takes the spotlight. Nonetheless, New Zealand has a lot to offer when it comes to education and adventure.

What’s even better is the fact that you can study in New Zealand for free. The government, for instance, has several tertiary scholarship programs for eligible international students. You’ll be able to choose a university that offers your desired course from an approved list. But the question is, how can you secure this opportunity? Read on to find out!

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How to Study in New Zealand for Free

1. Make sure that you are a great applicant

The very first thing you’ll need is a quality application. Remember, those with the best prior performance have high chances of getting selected by the admission boards and have the best chances of studying in New Zealand for free. All foreign applicants must have education qualifications equivalent to NCEA Level 3. The type of documents you submit here will depend on your country of origin, while the grades are subject to the course and institution you choose. Other things to keep in mind include:

  • IELTS with minimum band score of 5.5
  • A passport valid for at least six months

2. Prepare your application early

Scholarships are not only given based on merit but they also follow the rule of “first come, first served.” The earlier you submit your application, the higher your chances of being selected. Whether it’s a government, NGO, or school scholarship, there is always a limited amount of funds set aside for such purpose.

In addition, preparing application early enough will help you gather enough important information about the institution. As such, this will reduce the chances of making avoidable mistakes that could cost you the chance.

3. Apply to New Zealand Universities

Once you’ve identified a university scholarship or institutions with affordable tuition fees, make sure to send your application as soon as possible. In most cases, you’ll be required to use an online application portal set by the institution. Ensure you meet the criteria and submit all the necessary documents to have a chance of being selected. If you do not know how to apply, I highly recommend reading this guide on How to Study in New Zealand for International Students. This guide has admission information for international students!

4. Look for Scholarships offered by New Zealand Universities

Several New Zealand-based universities offer scholarships to international students. The extent of financial aid you’ll receive depend on many things including the institution and the program to which you’re enrolling. The University of Waikato and University of Canterbury are some of the main universities currently offering scholarships to international students. Getting university scholarships is the most preferred way of studying in New Zealand for free.

5. Look for Scholarships from your own government

Most countries sponsor their students to study abroad every year. As such, you should keep checking for available opportunities put forth by your domestic government. The best way to stay up to date on such information is to read news dailies, follow up on any interesting advertisements, and dig around any reputable online sources.

6. Look for External Scholarships

External scholarships are those offered by private donors or businesses and can range from a few hundreds to thousands of dollars per student. There many such NGOs willing to sponsor those who want to study abroad. They’re mostly focused on the general public but some of them target a particular group in the society. You need to constantly check for any available opportunities and apply for them if possible. Remember, the earlier you do so, the better.

7. Look for affordable universities in New Zealand

New Zealand universities are allowed to set their own tuition fees for various programs. Although they might have a similar structure, the total amount paid per year definitely varies in most institutions. They average between $22,000 and $32,000 for bachelor’s and $26,000 – $37,000 for postgraduate degrees. As such, it is up to you find the most affordable university in the country offering your desired course. We’ve prepared a list of 5 Affordable Universities in New Zealand for international students. Check it out if you are interested.

8. Work while Studying

The government of New Zealand permits international students to work while studying for at most 20 hours per week. They can also work full-time during scheduled national and international holidays. This is a great way for you to be able to study in New Zealand for free. However, you must adhere to the conditions stated on your visa. As such, if you work when you’re not allowed, you stand the risk of deportation.

9. Lower your cost of living

It’s always a good idea to cut your cost of living as you adjust to life in a new environment. The same applies when studying abroad, and New Zealand offers you many opportunities to live within your limits. There several methods you can use to lower the monthly and annual expenses as a student.

Depending on the location of your university, you can opt for somewhere with lower accommodation rates. Of course, this also touches on the transport cost to and from school. Another tip is to save money on food by buying groceries and fruits at a local market rather than the supermarket.

You can also use your student ID to get discounts where possible. Many stores in New Zealand offer discounts on essential items to students with school IDs. On the same breath, you can opt for second-hand goods at charity shops such as Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul.

10. Use a Loan from your government

This option is not employed by many international students because not all universities offer it. However, some institutions in New Zealand allow you to apply for a student loan from your domestic government and use it to pay for your tuition fee. Victoria University of Wellington, for instance, accepts such loans from the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Germany. Check whether this option is available in your chosen university and if your country of residence is among the supported ones.


New Zealand has many opportunities for international students to study for free. Applying for scholarships is one way of doing so. However, if you’re not eligible or aren’t lucky enough to get the sponsorship, you can go ahead and apply for affordable institutions in the country. While at it, make sure to lower your costs of living until such a time when you have a constant flow of income.


I hope that this article was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Australia Scholarships Page.