Canberra's year 12 students were sitting exams on Friday as Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan announced an overhaul to university fees that could impact future plans students have been preparing for years.
The Coalition plans to double course fees for some arts and humanities students, while cutting the costs for high-demand areas such as teaching, maths and science, to fund 39,000 extra places for students by 2023.
The changes would not affect currently enrolled students but will come into play for students in 2021 and beyond.
The communications degree Mary MacKillop year 12 student Julia Del Bianco plans to start next year would jump by 113 per cent.
The 17-year-old said she wanted to pursue a career in media or journalism despite the changes.
"It's not about the money for me, it's about doing something I love in the future," she said.
"I can't see myself doing a STEM subject anyway, because that's not my forte."
Mr Tehan said the proposal would "incentivise students to make more job-relevant choices" by reducing the fee contribution required from students in areas of expected employment growth.
The media industry has experienced massive job losses since the pandemic hit, but Julia said she wouldn't be deterred from a career she was passionate about.
"I think it will be difficult to get into but it's something I'm willing to work for," she said.
"I'm aware of where it can take me, but at this point I'm kind of just following my nose into where ever I go."
Year 11 student Laura Spelic and peers had to start thinking about what they wanted to do after school last year, particularly to get into maths and science subjects.
"In year 10 you have to choose the subjects you think you might need. Not only as prerequisites but for background knowledge," she said.
"To understand the world better and to understand what the future is going to look like you need to not only look at maths and technologies and those kinds of innovative ideas.
"You also have to look at studying society, how society worked in the past and our current political systems will affect the future as well."
Australia's HECS-HELP scheme allows students to accrue debt up to $100,000 and not begin repayments until they earn more than $45,000.
Year 12 student Caitlyn Williams said it allowed herself and peers to think about what they wanted to do, without the burden of paying off debt straight after graduation.
"If you didn't have that safety net, I think your decision would be based a lot more on the cost of getting the degree than it is at the moment."
Caitlyn plans to take on a double degree next year, in science and poltical science.
Science is among the courses whose cost will be lowered by 20 per cent, along with health, IT and architecture.
Caitlyn said she hadn't prioritised course fees before applying and wanted to pursue her interests regardless of job opportunities on the other side.
"I think if I pick something just because I'll get a job out of it, it'll be really hard to study," she said.