It's said to make the world go round, but for one-in-seven Australian university students money is instead keeping food off the table.
A Universities Australia survey released on Monday found about 14 per cent of students in 2017 regularly went without food and other necessities because they couldn't afford them.
The figure increases to one-in-five for regional students and those from low socio-economic backgrounds.
For Indigenous students, one-quarter regularly went without food and necessities because of financial hardship.
Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said many students were deferring studies or reducing their course loads because of financial hardship.
"Students studying full time are only living on $18,000 a year -- that's well below the poverty line," she said.
"Education is meant to come first when you are studying, but we know that for some groups of students who live life on the financial edge, that's just not their reality."
Of the more than 18,500 students who took part in the survey, one-third of undergraduate students receive income support from the government, such as Austudy, Abstudy and Youth Allowance.
National Union of Students president Mark Pace said rising costs for students were making higher education less accessible for those from lower income backgrounds.
"While we're obviously really concerned about the results we're not surprised whatsoever," he told AAP.
"We need to lift income support to lift people who are studying above the poverty line."
The government is currently looking to reduce the HECS repayment threshold to $45,000 from $55,000, which it says will take minimum payments to less than $9 a week.
THE FINANCES OF AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
- One-in-seven regularly go without food and other necessities
- This increases to one in four Indigenous students and almost one in five students from poorer backgrounds
- Three in five are worried about their finances
- One-third of students estimate their living expenses exceed their income
- One in 10 of students deferred their studies and one in five reduced their course load because of financial hardship
- 80 per cent have a job while studying and nearly a third of full-time students work more than 20 hours a week
- Two-fifths say paid work adversely affects their university performance
- A third regularly miss uni lectures or classes because of work