Government assistance for students
Besides assisting with your tuition fees, the Australian Government also offers other incentives.
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Apart from assisting you with the fees of your education via the aforementioned loan schemes, the government also offers other types of payments to help anyone who is studying, training or undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship. Thus, you can access benefits such as ABSTUDY, Austudy and Youth Allowance, which are designed to give you the financial support you need while you are studying or training.
Eligibility to get benefits from Centrelink
If you are any of the following, you might be eligible for Centrelink benefits:
- A full-time student, trainee or Australian Apprentice who requires financial assistance.
- A full time student, trainee or Australian Apprentice who is already getting Centrelink assistance such as Disability Support Pension or Newstart Allowance.
- The family or carer of a full-time student, trainee or Australian Apprentice.
The government offers financial assistance to help you cover your expenses while you are finishing school, undergoing tertiary education or undertaking a traineeship or Australian Apprenticeship.
This offers assistance with your expenses if you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australian and you are studying or undergoing an Australian Apprenticeship.
Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme. This is designed to help the families and carers of children living in isolated areas with the additional expenses involved in providing their children with education.
Austudy. This is designed to assist full-time students and Australian Apprentices who are older than 25, while Youth Allowance is meant to help young people in full-time courses or training, or if they're looking for work, sick or undergoing a full-time Australian Apprenticeship.
These payments are generally available throughout the study year, but also between courses and during semester breaks.
If you are a student or trainee, you might also be able to get further assistance. For example, the Youth Disability Supplement offers additional financial help to young people who have an intellectual, psychiatric or physical disability if they are already receiving certain income assistance payments. The Education Entry Payment is for students or trainees who are already getting certain income assistance payments to help them pay for their study costs.Back to top
Payments for travel expenses
Fares Allowance is designed to help you if you live away from your home so you can undertake your studies. These payments cover the expense of travelling between the location of your study and your residence. The Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme is meant to assist parents and carers who reside in rural and remote areas with the additional expenses of educating their children.Back to top
A closer look at Youth Allowance
Youth Allowance is designed to provide you with financial assistance if you are between 16 and 24 years old and are studying full-time, training, undertaking a full-time Australian Apprenticeship or looking for employment.
To qualify for Youth Allowance you have to either be:
- 16 to 21 years old and undertaking approved activities or looking for full-time employment
- 18 to 24 years old and studying full-time
- 16 to 17 years old and have finished year 12 or the equivalent
- 16 to 17 years old and in full-time secondary study and be obligated to live away from your regular residence to study or are considered independent
- 16 to 24 years old and enrolled in a full-time Australian Apprenticeship
The following table shows approximately how much you can get via Youth Allowance. However, note that this is just a guide because you will have to undergo an income and assets test to determine exactly how much you will be eligible to receive. If you are dependent, the parental-means test will be utilised and if you are under 18, your payments will be made to a parent or a guardian.
Maximum payment every two weeks
Single, under 18, living in your parents' home, no children
Single, under 18, must live away from home to study, no children
Single, over 18, living in your parents' home, no children
Single, over 18, must live away from home, no children
Single, with children
Part of a couple, no children
Part of a couple, with children
Single, looking for work, main carer granted an activity test exemption for either of the following:
Certain special payment rates also apply. If you're 22 years or older, are starting a full-time course and are a long-term income assistance recipient who is getting or has gotten any support other than student payments for a minimum of 26 weeks out of the past 39 weeks you could be eligible. If you're a migrant student who doesn't speak English as your first language and are undergoing an approved course in English you may be eligible.
Maximum payment every two weeks
Single and living in your parents' home
Single and having to live away from your parents' home
Part of a couple without children
Every now and again, the Youth Allowance payment you receive will be reviewed and it could be adjusted if your situation or that of your family changes. For example, if there is a change in your income, you move house or you separate from your partner, the amount you receive could be changed.
An income and assets test will be used to determine how much you can receive in Youth Allowance payments.
How the income and assets test work
If you are a dependent, the Personal Income Test and a Parental Means Test will be utilised to determine how much you can receive in Youth Allowance.
You will be considered a dependent if you are under 22 years old, a student and don't fulfil any of the independence criteria. Since you are a dependent, note that your parents' income and their assets could have an effect on whether or not you are eligible and how much you receive.
If you are independent, the amount you can receive in Youth Allowance will be determined using a Personal Income Test and a Personal Assets Test.
Your parents' income and assets are usually not taken into account if you are independent. However, if you are a student and come from a regional or remote area and are applying for Youth Allowance under the earnings or part-time work independence criteria, the income of your parents will be taken into account. In such cases, your parents must earn less than $150,000.
If you are an independent and are part of a couple, your partner's income and assets will be taken into account.
Personal income test
Your eligibility will be determined using a Personal Income Test, which will also be used to calculate exactly how much you can receive if you qualify for Youth Allowance.
Note that the general criteria for a student or apprentice are as follows:
- Your payment will not be affected as long as you earn $405 or less before tax every two weeks
- If your income is between $405 and $486, your payment will be lowered by 50 cents for every dollar
- If your income is greater than $486, your payment will be lowered by 60 cents in the dollar
Personal assets test
If you are independent and a student, job seeker or apprentice, this test will be used. The assets limits will differ according to whether or not you are part of a couple or own a property.
Parental means test
If you do not meet the conditions of an independent, then the Parental Means Test will be applied. This test consists of three parts, namely the Parental Income Test, the Family Assets Test and the Family Actual Means Test.
The Parental Income Test looks at the taxable income of both of your parents, child benefits, fringe benefits employers offer, income received from outside the country, superannuation contributions that are reportable and net losses from investments.
If your parents' income before tax is less than $47,815, your Youth Allowance payments will not be affected. If they earn more than this amount, then your payment will be lowered by 20 cents per dollar. If your parents have more than one dependent child, the situation of your siblings may affect how much you receive.
The Family Assets Test looks at all assets, including personal, farm and business. The test takes into account how much your family would get if they sold off their assets, after deducting their debts and mortgages. The family home is not taken into account and a discount of 75% is applied to farm and business assets. You are not eligible to receive Youth Allowance if your family has more than $627,000 in assets.
The Family Actual Means Test applies if one or both of your parents in the last financial year:
- Had an interest in a private company, an unlisted private company or a trust
- Were self-employed or part of a partnership
- Earned more than $2,500 from outside Australia
- Earned a wage or salary and claimed or will claim a tax deduction for a business loss that is not the result of a net investment loss in partnership income tax returns
- Is a migrant who first came to Australia under the business skills category in the past ten years
- Held an interest in any asset outside Australia worth more than $2,500
If your parents meet any of the above conditions, you will have to provide details of all expenditure and savings for your parents and all dependent family members. These figures will be used to work out the amount that will be used in the Parental Means Test.
Residence conditions for Youth Allowance eligibility
You also need to meet certain residence conditions to qualify to receive Youth Allowance payments. Thus, you need to be a resident of Australia, be physically present in the country when you file the claim and continue to fulfil these conditions for as long as you receive this payment. Note that if you are a newly arrived resident, you generally have to wait 104 weeks before you qualify, though there are some exemptions.
Length of time permissible to receive Youth Allowance while studying
Referred to as 'allowable time', the length of time you can receive Youth Allowance payments while studying is calculated according to the minimum time it would take to finish the course you are currently on. The time frames are as follows:
Normal course duration
Less or equal to one year
Maximum of twice the duration of the course
More than one year with a minimum of one subject in the current year being a year long
The minimum duration of the course plus one year
More than one year with no year-long subjects
The minimum duration of the course plus one semester
Other student benefits
Besides all the government assistance you receive, you also have access to Student Cards, which are designed to help you by offering you discounts on a variety of products and services, including access to clubs, gyms, book swap services and more at more attractive rates. The benefits are dependent on the university you are attending.
For example, the Student Edge card offers a variety of discounts and free items from major brands. As a Student Edge card holder you will have access to a wide range of competitions and giveaways on a weekly basis and you will be informed right away regarding any good deals on festivals, movies, concerts and various other events. Membership is free and you also get a wide range of other information that can help you including access to a jobs board featuring the most recent full-time, part-time, grad and volunteering positions.Back to top
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