Income and assets tests for ABSTUDY

The amount of ABSTUDY you may get will depend on your personal circumstances.

ABSTUDY payments with an income and assets test

The following ABSTUDY payments are subject to an income and assets test:

All other ABSTUDY payments and allowances aren’t subject to an income and assets test.

If you’re dependent

You’re dependent if:

If you’re dependent, we’ll use a personal income test and a parental means test to work out how much ABSTUDY you can get.

We work out the amount you get each fortnight using either of these tests. The test which results in the lowest payment rate will apply.

If you’re independent

You’re independent if:

  • you’re 22 or older
  • you’re 21 or younger and you’ve:
    • supported yourself through employment
    • have or have had a dependent child, or
    • met other independence criteria

If you’re independent, we’ll use a personal income test and personal assets test to work out how much ABSTUDY you can get. If you have a partner, we’ll also use the partner income test.

If you’re independent, your parents' or guardians’ income isn’t generally taken into account. We only consider it if you’re from a regional or remote area and applying for independence under Regional or remote, worked part time and moving away from home to study. In this situation you may be eligible for ABSTUDY if their income is under $150,000.

Personal income test

We may use a personal income test to decide how much ABSTUDY Living Allowance you can get. We’ll use the personal income test if you’re 16 or older, or if you’re an independent Australian Apprentice. The personal income test assesses your gross income. This is the income you get before any deduction, like tax.

We update the personal income test on 1 January, 20 March, and 20 September each year.

If you earn:

  • less than $437 a fortnight, you’ll get the full payment
  • between $437 and $524 a fortnight, we’ll reduce your payment by 50 cents for each dollar you earn over $437
  • more than $524 a fortnight, we’ll reduce your payment by $43 plus 60 cents for each dollar you earn over $524

You can earn more without affecting your payment with Income Bank. You can save up credits in your Income Bank when you earn less than $437 in a fortnight. Students can save up to $10,900 in Income Bank credits each year. Apprentices can save up to $1,000 a year.

Read more about Income Bank.

Personal assets test

If you’re an independent student or Australian Apprentice, assets you own can affect your payment. The asset limits will vary, depending if you have a partner or own your own home. We’ll ask you to provide the current market value of your assets when you claim ABSTUDY Living Allowance.

Read more about assets and the asset test limits.

If you’re in severe financial hardship but aren’t eligible for ABSTUDY because of the assets test, we may pay you under Asset Hardship provisions.

Parental means test

There are 2 parts to the parental means test:

  • parental income test, and
  • maintenance income test

Parental income test

The parental income test applies to you if you’re:

  • a dependent student or Australian Apprentice
  • getting ABSTUDY Living Allowance or School Fees Allowance Group 2, and

The parental income test won’t apply if you’re in state care, or your parents or guardians:

In 2017, we assess your parents’ or guardians’ taxable income from the 2015-16 tax year.

How your parents’ or guardians’ income for tax year 2015-16 affects your payment

Parental income Effect on payment
$51,903 or less No change, however it may still be affected by the maintenance income test.
More than $51,903 Reduced by 20 cents for every dollar over. This depends on number of children in your family pool.

You can use the online rate estimator to work out how much you may get based on your family circumstances.

We look at the income of the parents or guardians who you normally live with, or you last lived with even if you don’t live with either parent or guardian now. This includes step parents only if you normally live with them.

Parental income includes:

  • combined parental taxable income
  • tax free pensions and benefits
  • fringe benefits from employers
  • income from outside Australia
  • reportable superannuation contributions, and
  • total net investment losses such as negative gearing losses for that tax year

If your parent or guardian pays child support or maintenance for a former partner, we deduct this amount from their income.

The family pool

The family pool refers to the dependent children in your family who may affect your payment rate.

Your parents’ or guardians’ income may affect the amount you get. Income earned by other dependent children 21 or younger, may also affect it.

When there is another dependent child in your family pool, your payment could increase. If a dependent child leaves your family pool, your payment may decrease.

We can include dependent children in your family pool if they:

  • get Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY Living Allowance or income tested School Fees Allowance Group 2
  • get Assistance for Isolated Children Additional Boarding Allowance, or
  • are aged up to 19 and, if aged between 16 to 19, attend secondary school

If there’s a shared care arrangement in place for a sibling in your family, we may take this into account.

You can check your family’s details are up to date using your Centrelink online account. If you need to update your family details, call us.

Changes to your parents’ or guardians’ income

Your parents or guardians must tell us if there are any changes to their income. Sometimes, changes to their income can mean your payment rate changes. Your payment may also change if your siblings' circumstances change.

Where there’s been a change to your parents’ or guardians’ income, the parental income test can be worked out on their income for the current tax year. For example, if you study in 2017 and their income has significantly changed, we may use their income for the 2016-17 tax year.

Your parents or guardians must update their income every year. Read more about the annual parental income test reassessment.

Maintenance income test

The maintenance income test applies to you if you’re:

  • a dependent student or Australian Apprentice
  • getting ABSTUDY Living Allowance or School Fees Allowance Group 2, and

We consider the amount of child support or voluntary maintenance your parents or guardians get for you to work out your payment.

Your parents or guardians need to tell us about any voluntary maintenance they get if we haven’t done a child support assessment. If we have, they won’t need to supply these details again. We’ll use information we already have to adjust your payment.

Maintenance income can include:

  • cash, lump sum payments and non-cash amounts
  • utilities charges, and
  • school fees and other payments made on behalf, or for your benefit

You may be exempt from this test if one of your parents or guardians are permanently blind, and get:

  • Age Pension
  • Disability Support Pension, or
  • a Department of Veterans’ Affairs service pension or income support supplement

The maintenance income free area is the amount of child support or voluntary maintenance your parents or guardians can get before the maintenance income test affects your payment.

The number of siblings you have and payments they get can affect this amount.

Maintenance income free area per year

Your parents or guardians get maintenance for: The maintenance income free area is
Just you $1,587.75
You and other siblings who get Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY Living Allowance or School Fees Allowance Group 2 $1,587.75 plus $529.25 for each sibling. Then divide the total by the number of siblings
You and other siblings who are eligible for Family Tax Benefit or Assistance for Isolated Children Additional Boarding Allowance $529.25

Example of maintenance income free area calculation

In Jeff’s family, he is 1 of 3 children who all get ABSTUDY Living Allowance. His parents get maintenance income for all 3 children.

The maintenance income free area for the first sibling is $1,587.75. We add $529.25 for each of the other 2 siblings. We divide the total $2,646.25, by the number of siblings, being 3. So, Jeff’s maintenance income free area is $882.08.

Balancing your ABSTUDY Living Allowance and School Fees Allowance Group 2 payments

We use your parents’ or guardians’ child support assessment or voluntary maintenance to estimate your annual maintenance income. This can change throughout the year.

At the end of the financial year, we’ll balance your payments based on the actual maintenance income they got for you.

We’ll let you know if we’ve paid you too much or not enough.

Partner income test

The partner income test applies if you’re an independent student or Australian Apprentice with a partner.

The partner income test assesses your partner’s gross income. This is the income they get before any deduction, like tax.

If you’re 21 or younger, we reduce your payment by 60 cents for every $1 your partner earns over the threshold. The threshold amount depends on your partner’s circumstances, for example, their age and if they get a payment from us.

If you’re 22 or older, your partner can earn up to $949 a fortnight. We reduce your payment by 50 cents for every dollar over $949. If you have dependent children, your partner can earn more before it affects your payment. The amount depends on the child’s age and circumstances.

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Page last updated: 6 July 2017

This information was printed Friday 21 July 2017 from humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/income-and-assets-tests-abstudy It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at humanservices.gov.au/siteinformation when using this material.