Natasha Williams says receiving a $20,000 academic scholarship means she can focus on her studies without worrying how she will pay rent in Auckland.
The Kaikohe student is one of 15 from Northland College who together have received more than $60,000 in scholarships.
On top of that Miss Williams, 17, will benefit from the Government's fees-free study policy, which covers a year of free provider-based tertiary education or industry training in 2018 for New Zealanders who finished school this year, or will finish next year.
"It helps a lot because the fees itself would only be a problem when I leave uni and have to pay it back. But it means my debt later on isn't going to be as high as it might have been. I can go into the real adult life without having to worry about money straight away," she said.
If you're not a recent school leaver, and you've done less than half a fulltime year of education or training, you also qualify for fees-free study.
Miss Williams was awarded a $20,000 University of Auckland Academic Potential Scholarship which covers her accommodation costs in first year. She also gets $6000 for the following two years to help with other accommodation. She also received The Colin Finnerty Memorial Scholarship worth $1000.
"I don't really know how I would pay my rent. The halls are $360 a week and I definitely could not have afforded that on student allowance. I would have had to get a part-time job and potentially not get as good grades because I would have been focusing on money."
Miss Williams qualified for the scholarship as she gained NCEA level two with excellence.
She will be studying Bachelor of Commerce and found out her application was successful in October.
"I cried happy tears. It was pretty emotional because I've never really ever had that money in my life. I don't come from the richest background so I was shocked."
The McDonald's AUT Te Tai Tokerau Scholarship worth $12,000 went to Qianna Titore, who was also awarded the $3800 Northland Players Scholarship; the University of Waikato Northland Future Leaders Scholarship worth $5000 went to Rania Kaka; the Lucas Scholarship, worth $2000 each, went to DJ Maihi, Phoenix Henare-Clarke and Aporo Pomare.
Aporo Pomare also won the Te Puna Ora Award and The Moko Foundation Scholarship, while other scholarships went to Matenga Ashby, Danielle Henry, Leilani Kea, Ngawaiata Tarawa, Rosie Phillips, Curtis Mataki-Kaiaruna and Clay McQueen.