Centrelink Student Benefits: What assistance can you access?
Studying in Australia? Chances are that you're eligible for some government assistance. Discover what benefits students can get, how to get some extra cash at the beginning of each semester and even how to pay off some of your textbooks!
If you're an Aussie citizen and studying in Australia, chances are that you're eligible for a bunch of government benefits. These benefits range from fortnightly payments from the government and extra loans that can be taken out at the beginning of the semester tax-free to getting your textbooks and even your actual university or TAFE degree paid for. It's a pretty good time to be a student in Australia, that's for sure.
There are 3 main payments you might be eligible for: Youth Allowance, Austudy and ABSTUDY. In this guide, we'll run through the eligibility criteria for each of these plus what other benefits you might be able to qualify for.
So what assistance is available to me?
If you're studying, training or doing an Australian Apprenticeship, you may qualify for 1 of 3 main payments. The pay and eligibility criteria are different for each of these.
Who is it for? This is designed for students and apprentices aged 24 and under. To qualify, you'll need to be studying full time or be undertaking a full-time Australian Apprenticeship.
Eligibility criteria: According to Centrelink, you'll need to meet the following criteria to qualify:
- Be 18-24 years old and studying full time
- Be 16-17 years old and studying full time as well as being either independent or needing to live away from home to study
- Be 16-17 years old and studying full time as well as having completed year 12 or equivalent
- Be 16-24 years old and undertaking a full-time Australian Apprenticeship
How much will I be paid? This all depends on your age, living situation and family status. If you're single, over 18 and live at home, you'll be looking at a maximum fortnightly payment of $354.60. But if you live out of home, that figure will bump up to $512.50 a fortnight. For a full list of costs, head over to Centrelink's dedicated cost guide.
Who is it for? This is for full-time students or Australian Apprentices that are aged 25 and older.
Eligibility criteria: To be eligible for this payment, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be 25 or older
- Be a full-time student in an approved course or Australian Apprenticeship
- Be under the income test limits
What are the income test limits? You'll need to meet an income test and an assets test.
Income test: You'll start to have your pay cut if you earn over $437 a fortnight. If you earn around $1,000 a fortnight, your payment will be cut completely. It's best to check out Centrelink's guide on personal income tests as these costs will differ depending on your own circumstances.
Assets test: Your asset limit will depend on whether you own a home and on whether you're single or a couple. For example, if you're single and not a homeowner, you'll be able to have up to $487,000 in assets. But if you're a homeowner, you'll be capped at $270,500 in assets. Check out Centrelink's dedicated page on its assets test to see where you fit.
How much will I be paid? This depends on whether you're single or a couple and whether you have children. As a baseline, someone who is single with no children will get a maximum fortnightly payment of $512.50. If you've got children and you're single, you'll get $656.00 a fortnight. As usual, make sure you check out Centrelink's site to see where you fit.
Who is it for? This is designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and Australian Apprentices.
Eligibility criteria: To get access to ABSTUDY payments, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australian
- Be in an approved course, apprenticeship or traineeship
- Not getting another payment to study or train
What kind of payments can I get? There are a bunch of payments offered by the ABSTUDY program to help with living costs, the cost of starting or continuing study, additional assistance for severe financial difficulties and help with travel costs if you need to live away from home in order to study. It's best to get in touch with Centrelink directly to see what you're eligible for and how much you'll be paid exactly.
But wait, there are more assistance options available
On top of the above, there are a number of extra support systems for students in special circumstances, such as rent assistance, relocation funds and help with living costs. Under each assistance option, we've also included a link to the relevant Centrelink page to help you dig deeper. Let's dive in.
- Education Entry Payment is a yearly payment you get when you start study and are on one of the above income support programs. It's a one-off payment of $208 a year.
- Student Start-up Loan is a voluntary loan you can get up to twice a year if you're on Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY Living Allowance. It's $1,049 a pop and can help ease any financial pressure during the semester. You pay this loan back the same way you do with your HELP and HECS debts – through the ATO.
Help if you're moving to study
- Fares Allowance helps with travel costs between your permanent home and place of tertiary study. To be eligible, you'll need to be on Youth Allowance or Austudy and have to live away from home to study. The government will help pay for 1 trip to your place of study at the start of the year and 1 trip home after finishing your study each year. You might also be eligible for 1 return trip during the study year.
- Relocation Scholarship is a once-a-year payment if you're on Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY and have to move to or from a regional or remote area for higher education study. How much you get paid will depend on your circumstances, but you could be eligible for up to $4,626.
- Tertiary Access Payment helps with the cost of moving from an outer regional area or remote area for tertiary study. It's a one-off payment of $5,000 paid in 2 instalments and is used to help students with the cost of moving to study.
Help for everyday living costs while you study
- Rent Assistance is an automatic payment applied on top of your regular payment. It's for those students who are paying rent. How much you get will depend on if you're single or a couple, have children and how much you pay in rent. For context, a single student without kids that pays over $250 in rent a fortnight and shares living accommodation will get the maximum payment of $93.87 a fortnight. But change that to living alone and you'll be able to benefit from a $140.80 payment.
- A Low Income Health Care Card is a handy way to get cheaper health care and medicine if you're on a low income. It's really handy, especially if you've got monthly prescriptions to top up.
Help if you study and have a disability
- Youth Disability Supplement is a payment if you have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability and get income support payments. The most you can get is $131.90 a fortnight, and it will be paid with your main income support payment each month.
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