CONTEXT: Placements are an integral component of the medical, nursing and allied health curricula. However, apart from the relocation costs associated with placements, little research on students understandings and experiences of the financial implications of placements has been carried out. OBJECTIVES: We report on students financial concerns associated with placements, which emerged as a main theme in a broader study we conducted on the impact of undergraduate student placement experiences on graduate practice. METHODS: We conducted a qualitative study which included focus group discussions (n = 17), individual interviews (n = 48) and written responses (n = 2) with undergraduate students (n = 103) and graduates (n = 27) from a tertiary institution in Victoria, Australia. RESULTS: Students identified that income generation and the costs associated with transport and placement location contributed to the financial burden of placements. Students also spoke of the implications of high financial strain impacting on their accumulation of debt as well as on their health and wellbeing. DISCUSSION: Our study advances our understanding of the implications of financial hardship experienced by medical, nursing and allied health students. In our study, students, regardless of their placement location, experienced increased demands and associated stress as a result of managing placements, paid employment and limited financial resources. We recommend that further quantitative research be conducted to measure the variables identified as emerging themes in this study.