Eligibility & payment rates
You must be:
- 16 to 21 years of age and looking for full time work or doing approved activities
- 18 to 24 years of age and studying full time
- 16 to 17 years of age and:
- have finished year 12 or equivalent
- need to live away from home to study, or
- are independent for Youth Allowance, or
- 16 to 24 years of age and doing a full time Australian Apprenticeship
You may stay on Youth Allowance after you turn 25 years of age until you finish your course or apprenticeship.
We also assess eligibility on being an Australian resident when you claim and while you get this payment. We also look at:
- if you’re doing an approved course or activity
- if you’re dependent or independent, and
- income and assets
Dependent or independent
Watch our video about independence rules.
If you’re 21 years of age or younger and aren’t independent as described below, you’re dependent. This means your parents’ income affects if you get a payment and how much you get.
If you’re 22 years of age or older, we consider you independent.
If you’re under 22 years of age, you may be independent if you:
- can show you support yourself through work
- are, or have been, married or are in a registered relationship
- live in a de facto relationship as a member of a couple for at least 12 months
- have, or have had, a dependent child
- are a job seeker and a Job Capacity Assessment determined you have partial capacity to work
- unable to live at home due to extreme circumstances
- have parents who can’t look after you
- are a refugee and your parents don’t live in Australia
- are an orphan and haven’t been legally adopted, or
- are in state care, or left because of your age
Full time work
You may be independent if you support yourself through full time paid work for at least 18 months within any 2 year period. You don’t need to work for 18 consecutive months, or in the same job. Full time work is 30 hours per week on average throughout the 18 months.
If you don’t consistently work 30 hours per week, you can average your hours of work over a maximum of 13 week periods.
Paid work includes:
- paid leave
- overseas work
- unpaid leave due to employer shutdown outside of your control
- full time apprentices and trainees
Use the independence through work history tool to see if you’re independent.
Part time work or earnings for rural and remote students
You may be independent if:
- your parental home is in an inner regional, outer regional, remote or very remote area
- you need to move away from the parental home to study, and
- since leaving secondary school, you have:
- over an 18 month period, earned 75% or more of Wage Level A of the National Training Wage Schedule included in a modern award, or
- for at least 2 years, worked at least 15 hours each week
It also depends on your parents’ income. If you claim in 2016, they must have earned less than $150,000 in the 2014-15 tax year. If their income has changed a lot, we’ll look at the current tax year.
You need to give proof that you meet these requirements.
Find out which area your family home is in using the Student Regional Area Search service.
Unable to live at home
You may be independent if you can’t live at home due to extreme circumstances. This includes family breakdown, violence, or serious risk to your safety and wellbeing. A social worker will assess this if you’re under 18.
Income and assets test
Tests that apply to you
Your rate will be based on the test that results in the lowest payment rate. Your rate may change each fortnight.
Use our online estimators to help work out how much you might get.
|You are||Tests that apply to you|
|independent with a partner|
There are different assets limits depending on your situation. When you claim, you need to tell us the current market value of:
- your assets, and
- your partner’s assets if you have a partner
The personal assets test doesn’t apply if your partner is getting an income support payment.
An income maintenance period may apply if you’ve recently received any income from leave or redundancy.
If you’re in severe financial hardship but aren’t eligible because of the assets test, you can still apply under Asset Hardship provisions.
Parental means test
There are 2 parts to the parental means test:
- parental income test, and
- maintenance income test
If you’re a dependant, your parents or guardians may need to give us their income details. If they get an income support payment, the parental income test won’t apply.
In 2017, we look at your parents’ or guardians’ taxable income from the 2015-16 tax year. If their income was $51,903 or less, it won’t affect your payment.
If they earned more than $51,903 in 2015-16, your payment might reduce by up to 20 cents for every dollar over this amount. This depends on how many children are in your family pool. You can use the online rate estimator to work out how much you may get.
We look at the income of the parents or guardians you normally live with, or last lived with. This includes step parents only if you live with them.
Parental income includes:
- combined parental taxable income
- fringe benefits
- income from outside Australia
- reportable superannuation contributions, and
- total net investment losses such as negative gearing losses
If your parent pays child support, we remove it from their parental income.
The family pool
The family pool refers to the dependent children in your family who affect your payment rate.
We can include dependent children in your family pool if they are 21 years of age or younger and:
- they get Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY Living Allowance or income tested School Fees Allowance Group 2
- your parent or guardian gets Assistance for Isolated Children Additional Boarding Allowance for them, or
- they’re up to 19 years of age, and, if 16 to 19 years of age, attend secondary school
The more children in your family, the less your parents’ income affects your payment. We may also assess shared care arrangements.
Changes to income
Your parents or guardians must tell us if there are any changes to their income. This may change your payment rate. It may also change if your siblings’ circumstances change.
Where there has been a change, we can use your parents’ most recent income for the parental income test. For example, if you study in 2017 and your parents’ income has significantly changed, we may use your parents’ 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
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 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.
On the day you claim Youth Allowance, you must:
- be an Australian resident, and
- be in Australia
What may be different
Newly arrived residents may have a 104 week waiting period.
If you’re a non-protected Special Category visa holder, and have lived in Australia for at least 10 years without a break since 27 February 2001, you may be able to get Youth Allowance for up to 6 months. This can only happen once.
If you qualify this way, the newly arrived residents waiting period won’t apply.
Approved courses and institutions
Payments this applies to
You must do this to get:
Approved courses must meet certain rules. You may be studying an approved course if it’s one of the following categories:
- secondary school course
- special school course
- school based apprenticeship
- pre-vocational or vocational education course
- a course preparing you for tertiary study
- a TAFE or university course
- English as a Second Language course
Approved institutions also meet certain rules. Your place of study may be an approved place if it’s a:
- secondary school
- TAFE or a registered training organisation
- special school
- higher education institution, like a university
What may be different
You can’t get Austudy if you’ve already done a doctorate.
You can’t get Pensioner Education Supplement if you’ve already done a:
- masters, or
Check if your course and institution are approved
We’ll tell you if your course is approved when you submit your claim.
Read more about approved courses and institutions on the Department of Social Services website.
These rates are a guide only. If you’re a dependent student younger than 18 years of age, your parent or guardian will usually get the payment.
|Your circumstances||Your maximum fortnightly payment|
|Single, no children, younger than 18 years, and live at your parent’s home||$239.50|
|Single, no children, younger than 18 years, and need to live away from your parent’s home to study, train or look for work||$437.50|
|Single, no children, 18 years or older and live at parent’s home||$288.10|
|Single, no children, 18 years or older and need to live away from parent’s home||$437.50|
|Single, with children||$573.30|
|Member of a couple, with no children||$437.50|
|Member of a couple, with children||$480.50|
Single, job seeker, principal carer and exempt from Mutual Obligation Requirements because either you:
Long term income support
Special rates may apply if you’re 22 years of age or older and:
- start studying a full time course which will last at least 12 months, or
- start an Australian Apprenticeship, and
- you have received income support for at least 6 months out of the past 9 months, not including your student payment or apprentice payment
Special rates may also apply if:
- you’re at least 22 years of age, and
- English is not your first language, and
- you’re studying a course in English
|Your circumstances||Your maximum fortnightly payment|
|Single and live at parent’s home||$353.50|
|Single and need to live away from parent’s home||$531.60|
|Member of a couple, with no children||$480.50|
Sometimes we review your payment.
The amount you get may change if you or a family member’s circumstances change. Read more about change of circumstances while getting Youth Allowance.
If you’re a dependant, we’ll ask for details of your parents’ taxable income in September or October each year. Read more about the annual parental income test reassessment.
If you’re a student, we’ll ask for details about your future study intentions. We’ll ask you 4 weeks before your course finishes. You can tell us using your Centrelink online account through myGov or the Express Plus mobile app.
You may need to wait longer depending on:
- how much money you have
- why you don’t have a job
Ordinary waiting period
You may need to wait for 1 week for Newstart Allowance or Sickness Allowance payments to start. We call this an ordinary waiting period.
Read more about the ordinary waiting period.
Longer waiting periods
Liquid assets waiting period
Your waiting period may be longer if you and your partner have enough money to live on for a while. This includes money you have in bank accounts, financial investments and term deposits.
Depending on how much money you have, the waiting period can be from 1 to 13 weeks. We call this a liquid assets waiting period.
Read more about the liquid assets waiting period.
We can’t pay you when you have received some other form of payment from your former employer when that job ended. This could be a payment for sick leave, annual leave, termination of employment or redundancy.
Read more about the income maintenance period.
Seasonal work preclusion period
Your waiting time may be longer if you or your partner finished seasonal, contract or intermittent work 6 months or less before you claimed a payment from us.
Read more about the seasonal work preclusion period.
Unemployment non-payment period
Your waiting time may be longer if:
- you chose to leave your job
- misconduct was the reason why you lost your job
Read more about the unemployment non-payment period.
Moving to an area of lower employment prospects non-payment period
If you move to an area where you’re less likely to find a job, you may need to wait for 26 weeks until we can pay you.
Read more about the moving to an area of lower employment prospects waiting period.
Waiting time if you’re a new resident
After you start living in Australia as a resident you normally need to wait for 104 weeks before you can get most kinds of payments from us.
Family assistance payments have different rules.
Read more about the newly arrived residents waiting period.
If you think we got your waiting periods wrong
You have the right to appeal any decision we make.
Read about reviews and appeals.
Higher payment rates when living away from home
If you’re a dependant, you may be eligible if:
- it takes longer than 90 minutes, by public transport, to travel from your parents' home to your place of study
- it’s compulsory to live at your education institution while you study, or
- you’re doing part of your Australian approved course at an overseas institution
If you’re independent, you’ll get the higher rate if you live away from your parents' home.
You may be eligible if:
- it takes longer than 90 minutes, by public transport, to travel from your parents' home to your place of study
- your parents' home is in an isolated area. For example, at least 56 km from an appropriate government school, or you can’t get to school because of blocked roads for 20 school days a year
- your parents' home isn’t a suitable place to study, for example, due to family conflict or illness
- you have disability and your parents' home is away from facilities you need
- you’re in Year 11 or 12 and your parents move out of the area, or
- an equivalent course isn’t available nearby
If there’s an appropriate government school in your area and you choose to go to school outside your area, you won’t get a higher rate.
You may get the higher rate if you need to live away from your parents' home to do your apprenticeship.
If you need to live away from home to increase your chances of getting work, you may be eligible if:
- it takes longer than 90 minutes, by public transport, to travel from your parents' home to your approved activity or work
- your parents' home isn’t a suitable place to live and look for work, for example, due to family conflict or illness
- you have disability and your parents' home is away from facilities you need
If you pay rent, you may get Rent Assistance.
If you’re a full time student living away from home, you may get:
If your study load changes, you must tell us within 14 days. If you don’t tell us, you may end up having to pay money back.
Full time study
You’re studying full time if you’re doing 75% or more of your course’s full time study load. We work this out by the hours you study, or the amount of credit points you’re enrolled in.
Example 1 – you’re studying a course which is based on credit points
The place you’re studying at says the total number of credit points for your course is 24 per semester. In this example, you’re studying 3 subjects worth 6 credit points each.
|Total credit points||Course length||Full time study load||75% study load|
|24 per semester||3 years||4 subjects worth 6 credit points each
4 x 6 = 24
|24 x 0.75 = 18 credit points per semester|
In this example the 75% study load is 18 credit points per semester. Because you’re completing 18 credit points, you’re full time. If you’re doing less than this you’re part time.
Example 2 – you’re studying a course based on hours
The place you’re studying at says the total number of hours for your course is 200 and the course length is 10 weeks.
|Total hours||Course length||Full time study load||75% study load|
|200 hours||10 weeks||20 hours a week
(200 hours ÷ 10 weeks = 20 hours per week)
|15 hours a week
(200 hours x 0.75 = 150 hours.
150 hours ÷ 10 weeks = 15 hours per week)
In this example, if you’re doing at least 15 hours a week you’re studying full time. If you’re doing less than this you’re studying part time.
Part time study
You’re studying part time if you’re doing less than 75% of your course’s full time study load.
If you’re under 22 and you’re studying part time, you might get Youth Allowance as a job seeker. You’ll need to have a Job Plan and do some other activities as well.
You can only get Austudy or Youth Allowance as a student for a set amount of time. We call this allowable time.
If your study load is 75% instead of 100% you might run out of allowable time. This means you may not get your student payment for the whole time it takes to finish your course.
Reducing your study load
You might change to a lower study load because:
- you want to drop a subject
- your course changes and you don’t have a choice
- you have a disability
- you’re sick or injured
You must tell us if your study load reduces below 75%. This usually means we can’t pay you a student payment.
If you decide to drop a subject
If you decide to study less than 75% it means you’re part time. In most cases you can’t get Austudy or Youth Allowance as a student.
You might not have a choice about reducing your study load. For example, you might:
- have a timetable clash
- fail a subject you need to pass to get into the one you want to do
Your course provider might:
- cancel one of your subjects
- have no vacancies in one of your subjects
- reduce your study load for academic or vocational reasons
If your study load goes under 75% and you didn’t have a choice about it, you may stay on Austudy. You’ll need to:
- give us a letter from your academic registrar or similar that includes 1 of the reasons above, and
- keep a study load of at least 66%
If your study load falls because of the institution’s academic or vocational decision, we can only keep your payments going for half the academic year. After this you’ll need a study load of at least 75% to stay on Austudy.
Austudy students with disability
If you have a substantial physical, psychiatric or intellectual disability, you may not be able to study full time or finish in the allowable time.
You may still be eligible for Austudy if you do at least 25% of the full time study load.
You need to give us proof from a medical practitioner who specialises in the area of your disability. This must be in writing and show you’re unable to study full time.
Youth Allowance students
If you can’t study full time for a while because you’re sick or injured you may still be eligible for Youth Allowance.
You’ll need to give us a medical certificate that shows you can return to full time study when you’re better.
Allowable time for study
Allowable time limits
If you run out of allowable time, your student payment will stop.
We base your allowable time on the minimum time it normally takes for you to complete your course as a full time student. For example, if you’re studying a 3 year degree, we expect you to complete it in 3 years.
If you’re in year 12, you have 2 attempts to complete it.
If you’re studying honours, we allow you an extra year to finish.
|Normal length of the course||Allowable time|
|1 year or less||up to twice the course length|
|more than 1 year and at least 1 subject in the current year is a year long subject||the minimum time for the course plus 1 year|
|more than 1 year with no year long subjects||the minimum time for the course plus 1 semester|
Previous study without Youth Allowance
If you start your course before claiming Youth Allowance, any previous study you have done for this course will count in your allowable time. It doesn’t matter if you were getting a payment or not.
Studying more courses at the same level
You may be able to do a second course at the same level as part of an Activity Agreement, even if you didn’t complete your first course. We base your allowable time on your second course.
If you completed previous study, you don’t need an Activity Agreement to do more courses at the same level, as long as you complete your previous courses.
Circumstances beyond your control
If you can’t complete the course within the allowable time and it’s beyond your control, you may still be considered to be making satisfactory progress depending on your situation.
Circumstances beyond your control include if you:
- are, or have been, disabled by an illness or other medical condition
- have suffered family trauma
- have experienced a natural disaster
- had to relocate and repeat part of a course, or start again, because of education institution rules
- had to care for a family member, or
- have something else that stops you completing your study within the allowable time
If you think there’s something we need to take into account, contact us.
Distance and online education for tertiary and secondary students
Distance education and eligibility
You may be a distance education student if you don't study on campus or have face to face classes.
Distance education courses are online, by correspondence, or both. You can study these courses through:
- the Open Training and Education Network (OTEN)
- Open Universities Australia (OUA)
- an Australian university
- a private provider, or
- a secondary school
Eligibility for student payments is the same whether you study through distance education or on campus. You must have a full time study load to get Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY Living Allowance.
Each institution measures study loads differently. You need to check your institution's website or handbook to find what they consider a full time study load. Study loads for distance education courses use a unit weighting measurement or the total hours for your course.
Example 1 - total hours
Lily’s institution told her the course she’s studying needs 200 hours to complete. A full time study load at her institution is 20 hours per week. Therefore, her course would take 10 weeks to complete if she has a full time study load: 200 ÷ 20 = 10.
We assess Lily’s student payment on these hours - not how many hours she actually spends studying.
Students must study at least 75% of the full time study load to get a payment. For Lily, that’s 15 hours a week.
If Lily needs more than 10 weeks to complete her course, she’ll need to meet the allowable time rules, or reasonable time rules for ABSTUDY. Read about allowable time for study while getting Youth Allowance or allowable time while getting Austudy.
Example 2 - credit point weightings system
If your institution uses a credit point weightings system, you need to work out if your units add up to a full time study load.
Nick’s institution considers 500 credit points as a full time study load for a semester. Nick needs to study at least 375 credit points to meet the 75% study load requirement to get his student payment.
In semester 1, Nick is studying 3 units. 2 of these units have a weighting of 120 credit points each and 1 unit has a weighting of 100 credit points.
120 + 120 + 100 = 340 credit points
As this is less than 375 credit points, Nick doesn’t meet the 75% study load requirement. Nick must tell us about this as soon as possible to avoid a debt. There may be another payment for Nick. He should check our Payment Finder.
Submission of assignments
Some institutions need you to submit a certain number of assignments within a set period.
Many distance education courses are self-paced. But, to keep your student payment, you must show you’re progressing through your course in a satisfactory timeframe. We’ll check with your institution to see if you submit your assignments.
Tom’s course has 10 assignments to complete over 40 weeks. He needs to submit one every 4 weeks. Tom gets a student payment from us. After 12 weeks of study, Tom didn’t submit any assignments.
To avoid a debt, Tom needs to contact us as soon as he decides he’s withdrawing or is unlikely to complete his course in the timeframe. Tom may need to pay back the student payment he got from us
Open Training and Education Network (OTEN)
To get a student payment while studying through OTEN, you must enrol in an approved course and do an equivalent full time study load (EFTSL). OTEN will generally only enrol you in 1 or 2 units at a time and measures the units in hours.
You’re full time with OTEN if you’re doing 16 hours of course work per week.
For example, if you enrol in 1 unit that normally takes 48 hours of course work to complete, you must finish the unit within 3 weeks of starting it: 48 hours ÷ 16 hours = 3 weeks.
OTEN provides a flexible course model to encourage you to complete courses at your own pace with no penalty for not completing work. However, if you’re getting a payment from us, you should complete your study in the normal time it takes to complete the course. In the example above, you’d need to finish your unit within 3 weeks and start the next unit.
Open Universities Australia (OUA)
OUA have many different types of courses. Generally courses at OUA have a full time study load of 2 subjects per study period or session. Single units normally have a credit weighting of 0.125 equivalent full time study load (EFTSL).
Some OUA courses have 4 normal study periods of 13 weeks. If this is your course, you must do at least 2 single or 1 double open learning unit in any study period. This should be 0.250 EFTSL.
If you’re studying an OUA course which has 2 normal semesters, you must be studying at least 0.750 EFTSL. You must be studying full time to get your payment.
John is doing a bachelor course through OUA and wants to get Austudy. John enrols in 2 study periods and is studying 0.250 EFTSL in each study period. John is a full time student for Austudy for the 2 study periods.
Alice is getting Youth Allowance and doing a bachelor course through OUA. Alice enrolled in 2 single open learning units, with a combined credit weighting of 0.250 EFTSL, in a single study period. Alice decides half way through the study period to stop studying 1 of the units. Her study load reduces to 0.125 EFTSL. Alice has no special circumstances stopping her from completing the unit. Alice needs to tell us about this change or she may need to pay back her Youth Allowance.
Ben is getting Youth Allowance and doing a bachelor course through OUA. The course only has 2 normal semesters for Ben to enrol in. This is different to some other courses which have 4 study periods. Ben needs to study 0.375 EFTSL in each study period, or 0.7500 EFTSL if he enrols for the whole year, to continue getting Youth Allowance.