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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.

Youth Allowance

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.

Austudy

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.

ABSTUDY

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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24 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    AnthonyOctober 10, 2023

    my daughter is 23 years old and is undertaking a PHD at Dakin University and CSIRO. She has a scholarship of $32,000 per year ($615 per week). She has to live away from home due to travel time of 3 hours and 20 minutes round trip by car and extremely limited public transport which will not work as she would arrive late each day for her study. She is independent from us as we are on a low income pension of $43,000 per year so cannot afford to support her. She lives alone in a rental unit at a cost of $360 per week. Is she entitled to Youth Allowance and rental assistance, or any other support. Thank you

      AvatarFinder
      SarahOctober 12, 2023Finder

      Hi Anthony,

      We’re not able to provide personal advice as we’re a review and comparison site, your best bet is for your daughter to contact Centrelink directly about her situation.

    Default Gravatar
    jessMay 16, 2023

    I was just wondering if I went and studied full time and have 3 children and my partner is working full time am I able to get a payment?

      AvatarFinder
      SarahMay 18, 2023Finder

      Hi Jess,

      We’re not licenced to provide personal financial advice, but we can confirm that eligibility depends on household income, so your partner’s income will impact your applications. It’s definitely worth contacting Centrelink to see what your options are.

      Best of luck!

    Default Gravatar
    RaviMay 17, 2019

    My son is a full time university student who is living with us. He is 21 years old. Me and my wife make around $200k per year. Is my son eligible for youth allowance? If yes, how he can apply?

      AvatarFinder
      MaiMay 18, 2019Finder

      Hi Ravi,

      Thank you for reaching out.

      Since your son is studying full-time and is within the allowed age, he may be eligible for the youth allowance. Your income and assets needs to be assessed. You and your wife’s income and assets could have an effect on whether or not your son will be eligible and how much will he receive. He will not be eligible to receive Youth Allowance if your family has more than $627,000 in assets. To apply, please contact Centrelink.

      Hope this helps! 😊

      Kind Regards,
      Mai

    Default Gravatar
    TrishaFebruary 27, 2019

    Hi ,I’m a 50 yr old Aboriginal lady who is on a disability support pension,I have just started a course in design at my local Tafe the course runs for a year .2 days a week.Am I entitled to any benefit that may help with the cost of books / tools / supplies that may be needed.Also if I am eligible do they back pay to the date when I started the course or do they go from the date of form lodgement thankyou.Trish

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiFebruary 28, 2019

      Hi Trish,

      Thanks for reaching out! The government gives Aboriginal people assistance called ABSTUDY and you can see the information about it above. It gives support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are studying or undergoing an Australian Apprenticeship. Given that you also have a disability, you may also be eligible for additional payments on top of your regular payment. It’s best to get in touch with Centrelink directly and they can advise you on what exactly you’re eligible for.

      Good luck – and enjoy your study!

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    JasNovember 23, 2018

    Hi
    I am 18 and I am an Australian Citizen.
    What if my parents don’t financially support me
    And I can’t live in their home anymore because I feel depressed living with my dad.
    What type of youth allowence will I get
    And I’m not going to start my studies until March 2019.
    And I want to live on my own and I am still looking for work.
    Would they still check my parents pay even though they won’t support me.

      AvatarFinder
      JoshuaNovember 26, 2018Finder

      Hi Jas,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      As an 18-year old individual, there are payments and services to help support you if you are becoming independent from your parents or carer. You have to choose among the different programs such as t Youth Allowance, Newstart Allowance or ABSTUDY. The government would assess your family situation and status. For this reason, it would be a good idea to directly get in touch with them and determine your eligibility.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

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