Income and assets tests for ABSTUDY

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

ABSTUDY payments subject to an income and assets test

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

All other ABSTUDY payments and allowances are not subject to an income and assets test.

If you are dependent

If you are 21 years of age or younger and do not meet any of the independence criteria, you are considered dependent. If you are dependent, we will use a personal income test and a parental means test to work out how much ABSTUDY you can get.

The amount you get each fortnight is worked out using either of these tests. The test that results in the lowest payment rate will apply.

If you are independent

If you’re applying for ABSTUDY, you’ll be considered either dependent or independent. If you are 22 years of age or older you are automatically considered independent. If you are 21 years of age or younger, you will only be considered independent if you have supported yourself through employment, have or have had a dependent child or meet certain other independence criteria.

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

If you are independent, your parents' or guardians’ income is not generally taken into account. It is only taken into account if you are 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 your parents’ income is under $150,000.

Personal income test

A personal income test may be used to decide how much ABSTUDY Living Allowance you can get. We will use the personal income test if you are 16 years of age or older, or if you are an independent Australian Apprentice. The personal income test assesses your gross income.

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 will get the full payment
  • between $437 and $524 a fortnight, we will reduce your payment by 50 cents for each dollar you earn over $437
  • more than $524 a fortnight, we will 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 are an independent student or Australian Apprentice, assets you own can affect your payment. The asset limits will vary, depending on if you have a partner or own your own home. We will ask you to provide the current market value of your assets when you claim ABSTUDY Living Allowance. The personal assets test does not apply if your partner is on an income support payment.

Read more about assets and the asset test limits.

If you are in severe financial hardship but are not eligible for ABSTUDY because of the assets test, you may be paid 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 are a dependent student or Australian Apprentice:

  • 16 years of age or older, or
  • 15 years of age or younger and approved to live away from home, and
  • receive or are claiming ABSTUDY Living Allowance or School Fees Allowance Group 2

The parental income test will not apply to you if you are in state care, or your parents or guardians:

  • receive an income support payment - this does not include Family Tax Benefit
  • receive ABSTUDY Living Allowance, or
  • have a Health Care Card

In 2017 we assess your parents’ or guardians’ taxable income for the 2015-16 tax year. If your parents' or guardians' taxable income for the 2015-16 tax year is $51,903 or less, this income test won’t affect the rate of ABSTUDY Living Allowance or School Fees Allowance Group 2 you may get.

If your parents or guardians earned more than $51,903 in the 2015-16 tax year, your rate of payment is reduced by 20 cents for every dollar over this amount depending on how many dependent children are in your family pool, as defined below. You can use the online rate estimator to work how much you may get based on your family circumstances.

The parental income test applies to the parents or guardians who you normally live with, or last lived with if you do not live with either parent or guardian. If you normally live with a step parent, their income will be included.

Parental income includes:

  • combined parental taxable income
  • reportable fringe benefits received 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, this amount will be deducted from their income.

The family pool

The family pool is a term used to refer to the dependent children in your family who may affect your payment rate.

Your eligibility for ABSTUDY or the amount you get may be affected by your parents’ or guardians’ income. To work out what portion of their income affects your eligibility for payment, other dependent children 21 years of age or younger who are supported by the same income, are also considered. This is known as the family pool.

This means that when there is an additional dependent child or children in your family pool, you may become eligible for ABSTUDY or if you’re already getting ABSTUDY, your payment could increase. If a dependent child leaves your family pool, your payment may decrease.

Dependent children can be included in the family pool if:

  • they are receiving Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY Living Allowance or income tested School Fees Allowance Group 2
  • Assistance for Isolated Children Additional Boarding Allowance is being paid for them, or
  • they are up to 19 years of age and, if 16 to 19 years of age, attending secondary school

If there is a shared care arrangement in place for a child in your family, this may also be taken into account.

You can check your family’s details are up to date using your Centrelink online account through myGov. 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, if there are changes in your parents’ or guardians’ income, your payment rate may change. It might also change if your siblings' circumstances change.

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

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

Maintenance income test

If you’re a dependant, we take the amount of child support or spousal maintenance your parents or guardians receive into account when working out your payment rate. This includes any voluntary maintenance your parents or guardians receive.

You need to supply details of any voluntary maintenance they receive if we haven’t made a child support assessment. Where we have made a child support assessment, you will not 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
  • school fees and other payments made on behalf, or for the benefit of, the child

The maintenance income test 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. These are the maintenance income test free areas per year:

Your parents or guardians get maintenance for: Child support received per year
You $1,565.85
You and other children who get or are eligible for Family Tax Benefit $521.95
Other siblings who get Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY or Assistance for Isolated Children Allowance Additional Boarding Allowance only add $521.95 for each child

The maintenance test is similar to what we use for Family Tax Benefit Part A.

Partner income test

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

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

If you are 22 years of age or older, your partner can earn up to $938 a fortnight. We reduce your payment by 50 cents for every dollar over $938. 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.

Online estimator

Use our online estimator to help you work out how much you might get.

Page last updated: 1 January 2017

This information was printed Monday 23 January 2017 from It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at when using this material.