Hard up Christchurch students are relying on support from the City Mission to get by.
City Missioner Michael Gorman said the number of young people relying on the service, including some who were studying, had risen in the past year. He knew of about 15 students who sought help regularly.
"There is a really high level of anxiety among a lot of them," he said.
University of Canterbury masters student Vicki Haggland said she was not surprised by the trend. She survived on just $315 a week.
The $165 she got from StudyLink went on rent. The remaining $150, from her part-time retail job, paid for food, insurance, existing debt, stationery and, if she was lucky, maybe a coffee once a week.
Haggland said students were expected to do more with less as rent and other living costs increased post-earthquake.
Without a part-time job, studying would not be viable, she said.
University of Canterbury Students' Association president James Addington said food parcels were available for students.
He had not noticed an increase in demand, but said hardship was difficult to measure.
The cost of living had increased, he said, and students were not getting any extra money through StudyLink.
Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins said students were under "enormous financial pressure" and cost was a barrier to people who wanted to access tertiary education.
"Over the past five or six years students have had more and more costs loaded onto them."
Eligibility for support had reduced, he said.
Post-graduate students no longer qualified for the student allowance.
Ministry of Social Development national commissioner Penny Rounthwaite said emergency help was available for people, including students, with "urgent needs and no other way to pay".
She said the ministry worked hard to ensure students understood study could be a "big financial commitment".
The maximum student allowance and student loan payments were calculated every year through the consumer price index.
Rounthwaite said many students worked on top of their studies, which helped them gain "skills and experience".
Post-graduate science student Kerri Kohler-Saunders said he'd "always" worked as a student, but it was to the detriment of his studies.
"You put yourself at a huge disadvantage when you work and study," he said.
Kohler-Saunders planned to do a masters in the future, but he would not be able to afford the cost without working.
"I'm sick of working alongside my study. I want to go back after saving and give it 100 per cent."
Who is eligible for student support?
Only under-graduate students are eligible to get a student allowance.
For students under 24, parental income is used to determine eligibility.
The allowance payment ranges from $210.13 for a single student without children to $375.20 for a student with a partner and children.
Living costs, up to $176.86 a week, are available for students who don't qualify for an allowance.
Some students may also qualify for extra assistance such as an accommodation supplement or disability allowance.