Student Start-up Loan

A voluntary loan for eligible higher education students receiving Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY Living Allowance.

Watch our video about the Student Start-up Loan.

About the Student Start-up Loan

The Student Start-up Loan is a voluntary loan available to eligible full time students in higher education who receive Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY Living Allowance.

The Student Start-up Loan is not paid automatically. If you want this loan, you have to apply for it.

Loans are tax free. You have to repay the loan through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) when your income exceeds the minimum repayment threshold, as you would with Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) and Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) debts. Read more about repayment thresholds on the ATO website.

The Student Start-up Loan is not available if you have previously received, and are still eligible for, the Student Start-up Scholarship.

Eligibility for the Student Start-up Loan

To be eligible for the Student Start-up Loan for a loan period, you must:

  • be studying full time, or have our approval to do a reduced study load, in an approved course
  • be receiving Youth Allowance as a student, Austudy or ABSTUDY Living Allowance
  • provide your Tax File Number with your loan application
  • apply before the end of the loan period and at least 35 days before your course ends, and
  • not be receiving a Student Start-up Scholarship, or qualify for a Commonwealth Education Costs Scholarship, for the same period

Read more about Commonwealth Scholarships on the Department of Education and Training website.

Approved courses

The list of approved courses for the Student Start-up Loan is not the same as other student payments. An approved course for Student Start-up Loan is an accredited higher education course or preparatory course undertaken at a higher education institution, for example, a university. Vocational education and training courses are not generally approved courses for the Student Start-up Loan.  

If a technical and further education institution is registered as a higher education provider and delivers an accredited higher education course, for example an associate degree or bachelor degree, this course will be an approved course for the Student Start-up Loan.

While higher education courses undertaken at TAFE and VET institutions are approved for student payment purposes, they are not approved for the purpose of Student Start-up Loan eligibility.

Student Start-up Loan periods

There are 2 loan periods each calendar year:

  • 1 January to 30 June, and
  • 1 July to 31 December

If you are eligible, you can apply for 1 Student Start-up Loan for each loan period during your course.

You cannot get more than 2 loans per calendar year.

Student Start-up Loan amount

Each Student Start-up Loan is a set amount of $1,035 per loan period. This amount will be indexed on 1 January each year.

How the loan will be paid to you

If you are granted a Student Start-up Loan, it will be paid as a lump sum into the same account as your Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY Living Allowance.

When the loan will be paid to you

Your Student Start-up Loan will be paid in addition to your regular student payment on the earliest date you become eligible. If you are starting a new course, the Student Start-up Loan cannot be paid before your course start date.

If you apply for loans for future loan periods and you are still eligible, each loan will be paid to you on your first normal payday after:

  •  1 January for the loan period that starts on 1 January, or
  •  1 July for the loan period that starts on 1 July

You need to have received at least $1 of Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY on that payday. If you didn’t, we'll continue to assess your eligibility each fortnight. This means you may get the loan with your next payment.

Applying for the Student Start-up Loan

You can apply for the Student Start-up Loan during your claim if you're claiming:

  • Austudy, or
  • Youth Allowance

If you're already getting a student payment for an approved course:

  • log on to your Centrelink online account through myGov
  • select Apply for or Manage Student Start-up Loan from the menu - the loan periods you can apply for will be listed
  • select accept or decline beside loan periods you wish to get the loan in
  • accept the Terms and Conditions
  • submit your application

If you're not eligible you won't have the option to apply in your online account.

If anything changes

It is important you tell us if your circumstances change. Keeping us up to date means we can assess your circumstances correctly and make the right payment. If you don’t keep us up to date, you may incur a debt which will need to be repaid.

You need to tell us if there are changes to:

  • your personal and contact details
  • your bank details
  • your relationship status, for example, if you become partnered or separate from your partner
  • care arrangements for anyone in your care, including your children
  • your work status

You also need to tell us if:

  • you have started or finished studying
  • your study load changes
  • you are leaving the country temporarily or permanently
  • you get a lump sum payment
  • your income or assets change, including your partner's income and assets

Use self service to update many of these things yourself, quickly and easily.

Manage your money

Getting control of your money can be hard, but we’ve got some great advice and tools to help. Read more about budgeting, borrowing and credit, and managing debt, to help manage your money.

Page last updated: 9 February 2017