6 superannuation tips for university students

For many people, being at uni means juggling a busy schedule of education and paid work. And for some, it could mean multiple jobs over the years. This can lead to your super being paid into multiple funds. So while it may seem a bit strange to be thinking about retirement before you’ve even began your career, it’s never too early to keep an eye on your super.

Whether you're at uni to train for your dream job, upskill for a career change, or just challenge your mind, you'll find yourself busy. And finding time to manage finances can easily slip away. Some simple tips and checks can help keep you across your money - even if it seems like a long time until you can access it!


Tips to keep track of your super

1. Choose a fund you can stay with for the long-term

Choose a top-performing fund for your super – one you can stay with for the future. Look at admin fees and performance over the long term, and consider your future. If you’re in your early 20s, your super will be invested for at least 45 years, so long-term performance is key.




2. Understand net benefit

Your super fund’s main job is to contribute to the growth of your retirement savings by delivering you returns on the money put into your super. You do your bit – your money goes in; a good fund does its bit – by investing your money with skill and focus. The combined result should be a growing balance over the course of your working life and in retirement.

That’s the investment part. Then there’s the fees – what your fund charges to manage and invest your money.

In relation to your super, net benefit is: the investment return delivered to you by your super fund, minus the admin fees, investment fees and taxes charged by your fund.



3. Find any lost super

Do you know how many super accounts you have? If you’ve had more than one job you could have ‘lost’ super. Doing a simple super search could help track down any money that belongs to you.

You can find any lost super you may have using the ATO online services through myGov. Alternatively, if you’re an AustralianSuper member – and give the Fund consent to use your Tax File Number (TFN) – we can help track down your lost super.


4. Combine your super into one account

If you do find lost super, you might want to consider combining your accounts into one. By doing this, you can save on fees that might be eating away your balance – if you’re no longer working in that job. You can also avoid potential duplicate insurance policies, which you might’ve automatically signed up to.

Before making a decision to combine multiple funds, look out for any fees or charges that may apply for closing an account. Make sure you also understand the impact of combining your accounts on any additional benefits, such as insurance.

In some circumstances, insurance cover linked to your super will lapse if there are no contributions and your account falls below $6,000 . Be sure to have a look at the insurance cover you have through your super, as well as check any special conditions that might apply if you’re off work.


5. Make sure you’re getting employer super contributions

If you’re working while you’re studying, you should be eligible for employer super contributions – depending on how much you’re earning.

In Australia, your employer has to pay a minimum of 9.5% of the value of your wage into your super fund. This employer super contribution is called the Super Guarantee and you’re eligible if you’re:

  • Classified as an employee (as opposed to a contractor)
  • 18 years old and over, and earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month
  • Under 18 years old, earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month, and you work more than 30 hours a week.

Make sure you understand what you’re entitled to so you don’t miss out on any payments.



6. Get a super boost from the Government

As a uni student, you might only be working casually, part-time, or juggling a low-paying full-time job. If this is the case, and you earn less than $53,564 (in the 2019-2020 financial year), you may be eligible for a super co-contribution from the Australian Government.

If you meet the eligibility criteria, the Government will match 50 cents for every $1 that you add to your super from your after-tax income, up to a certain maximum. This could mean up to a $500 contribution from the Government – depending on your income. This co-contribution gets paid directly into your super account after you’ve lodged your tax return for that year.



Government super co-contribution income thresholds
Your total income# Your contribution Co-contribution
$39,837 $1,000 $500
$45,837 $600 $300
$51,837 $200 $100
$54,837 Any amount $0

Source: ATO – Co-contribution income thresholds
#Assessable income, plus reportable employer super contributions, plus reportable fringe benefits for the 20/21 financial year.


Tip: Let your new employer know about your super when you change jobs

For most jobs you can pick where your employer super contributions go. Make sure you tell your employer which fund your super is with, if it’s an option. In some cases, it may not be – depending on the industry. You’ll need to check with your employer.

So remember, if you’re starting a new job – whether you’ve graduated or while you’re still studying – let your new employer know about your super account, and understand the superannuation guarantee – which outlines the minimum amount of super you’re entitled to be paid.



Plan for your future

While retirement might seem like a long way off yet, finding small ways to contribute to your super now can have a huge impact on you achieving your best possible retirement, even when you might not be earning a lot of money.

This may be general financial advice which doesn’t consider your personal objectives, situation or needs. Before deciding on AustralianSuper read the Product Disclosure Statement available at australiansuper.com/pds. AustralianSuper Pty Ltd ABN 94 006 457 987, AFSL 233788.

Trustee of AustralianSuper ABN 65 714 394 898.

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