Income and assets test for ABSTUDY

Depending on your circumstances, you may have to meet the following income and assets tests when you apply for ABSTUDY. These tests are effective from 1 January 2014.

Personal income test

The Personal income test applies to customers aged 16 years old or more and to independent Australian Apprentices aged less than 16 years old. It assesses your gross income.

You have an income free area of $415 per fortnight. Income above the income free area reduces your ABSTUDY payment unless your income bank is in credit.

Read more about the Personal income test.

Income bank

Lets you keep some income you earn over your fortnightly income-free area.

  • Students can accumulate up to $10,300 a year
  • Australian Apprentices can accumulate up to $1,000 a year

Read more about Income Bank.

Parental income test

A Parental income test applies to:

  • dependent students and Australian Apprentices aged 16 years old or more
  • approved boarders aged less than 16 years old

A Parental income test does not apply if your parents or guardians get an income support payment, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, or CDEP wages or have a  Health Care Card, however the Family Actual Means Test may still apply.

You can use online estimators to help you work out whether you are eligible for student income support and what your payment amount is likely to be.

If your parents' taxable income for the 2012-13 financial year is $48,837 or less, your Living Allowance or any means tested school fees allowance that you may be eligible for, will not be affected by the income test. The rate of payment is reduced by $1 for every $5 of income over $48,837.

If your parents or guardians have other dependent children who are also eligible for ABSTUDY Living Allowance or any means tested school fees allowance, Youth Allowance or Assistance for Isolated Children boarding allowance, you and the other children will be placed in what is called a family pool. This is done to maximise the amount of assistance dependent children in the same family can receive from these payments. Your brothers' or sisters' circumstances may affect your rate of payment if your parents' income exceeds $48,837.

If your brothers' or sisters' circumstances change, you may also notice changes in your fortnightly payment rate.

Either the parental income test or the personal income test if applicable will be applied, depending upon which one has the greater effect on the payment.

In some circumstances such as when parental income decreases or increases substantially, the parental income test uses parental income in the current tax year.

Parental means tests do not apply if you are a student in state care.

Family assets test

A Family assets test applies to:

  • dependent students and Australian Apprentices aged 16 years old and over
  • approved boarders aged less than 16 years old

It takes into account personal, business, and farm assets. A 75% discount is applied to business and farm assets. No payment can be made if your family's assets exceed the threshold of $642,000.

Family Actual Means Test

The Family Actual Means Test can apply to dependent students and Australian Apprentices aged 16 years old or more and approved boarders aged less than 16 years old.

The Family Actual Means Test takes into consideration family spending and saving and only applies if 1 or both of your parents or guardians in the previous financial year:

  • had an interest in a trust, private company or unlisted public company
  • were self-employed, except as a sole trader engaged wholly or mainly in primary production, or a partner in a partnership
  • earned in excess of A$2,500 including tax exempt from income from a source in Norfolk Island or outside Australia
  • were a wage or salary earner who claimed or will claim a tax deduction for a business loss whether current or carried forward that does not consist of a net investment loss in partnership income tax returns
  • had an interest in assets held outside Australia in excess of A$2,500, or
  • is a migrant who first entered Australia under a business skills category (business migrant) in the last 10 years

Where the test applies, details of all personal spending and savings by parents and all dependent family members must be supplied to Centrelink. This assists us to measure what was spent and saved in the previous financial year. Centrelink will add the appropriate level of tax including the Medicare levy to the total spent and saved. This figure is the amount used for the Parental Means Test calculation.

If there has been a substantial decrease in spending and savings, in certain circumstances family actual means in the current year may be used.

Where a parent or guardian receives Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payment the test does not apply.

Independent students' assets test

An assets test applies to independent students and Australian Apprentices. Hardship provisions may apply.

Refer to the assets test for homeowners if you own or are buying your own home.

Refer to the assets test for non-homeowners if you rent or board.

Independent students partner income test

A partner income test applies to independent students and Australian Apprentices who have a partner.

If you are under 22 years old, your payment will be reduced by 60 cents for every dollar your partner earns over their cut off point. This cut off point will depend on their particular circumstances.

If you are 22 years old or more, the Partner Income Free Area is $906.17. Adjustments are made for any dependent children. Partner income over the Partner Income Free Area will reduce your allowance by 50 cents in the dollar.