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.
- be an Australian resident when you claim and while you get this payment, and
- be in Australia on the day you claim
Newly arrived residents may have a 104 week waiting period.
If you’re not a resident, you may only get Youth Allowance for up to 6 months if you:
- arrived in Australia on a New Zealand passport after 26 February 2001, and
- have lived here continuously for at least 10 years since 26 February 2001
If you qualify under this, the newly arrived resident waiting period won’t apply.
Approved courses of study and institutions
Approved secondary courses include:
- an accredited secondary school, TAFE, higher education institution or special school course
- English as a second language (ESL) course
- courses to get you ready for tertiary study
- school based apprenticeship or traineeship
- some language, literacy and numeracy courses
Approved tertiary courses include:
- pre-vocational courses
- ESL courses
- Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses
- associate degrees or diplomas
- diplomas or advanced diplomas
- bachelor degrees
- bridging study for overseas trained professionals
- graduate certificate or diploma courses
- master’s qualifying courses
- some master’s by coursework programs
- combined approved courses in the Student Assistance (Education Institutions and Courses) Determination guide on the Department of Social Services website
- open learning
If you’ve already done a course leading to a doctorate or equivalent, you can’t get Austudy or Pensioner Education Supplement.
You may get ABSTUDY Pensioner Education Supplement to do master’s and doctoral courses that are approved.
Approved institutions may include:
- government schools, including distance education or correspondence courses
- non-government institutions who offer primary, ungraded, secondary or special courses accredited by a state or territory education authority
- senior secondary colleges
- registered training organisations - VET providers
- higher education providers
Eligibility depends on your course and institution. This is something you’ll need to check.
Read more 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 your’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.
Depending on your circumstances, you may need to wait for a period of time before getting your first income support payment.
There are different types of waiting periods. One or more of these may apply to you.
Ordinary waiting period
If you're claiming Newstart Allowance or Sickness Allowance, an ordinary waiting period of 1 week may apply.
Read more about the ordinary waiting period.
Liquid assets waiting period
Depending on your financial situation, you may have to serve a liquid assets waiting period of between 1 and 13 weeks. Liquid assets are any funds readily available to you or your partner, including money your employer owes you.
Read more about the liquid assets waiting period.
Income maintenance period
During an income maintenance period we can't pay you because you have received some other form of payment. This could be payment for sick leave, annual leave, termination of employment or a redundancy payment from your former employer when that job ended.
Read more about the income maintenance period.
Seasonal work preclusion period
The seasonal work preclusion period applies if you or your partner have finished seasonal, contract or intermittent work within 6 months of submitting your claim.
Read more about the seasonal work preclusion period.
Unemployment non-payment period
If you leave your job voluntarily or are dismissed due to misconduct, you may need to serve an unemployment non-payment period.
Read more about the unemployment non-payment period.
Moving to an area of lower employment prospects non-payment period
If you move and it reduces your chances of finding work, you may need to serve a 26 week non-payment period.
Read more about moving to an area of lower employment prospects non-payment period.
Newly arrived resident’s waiting period
If you're a newly arrived resident you generally have to wait 104 weeks before you can access most payments and benefits from us. This waiting period doesn't apply to family assistance payments.
Read more about newly arrived resident’s waiting period.
Reviews and appeals
You have the right to appeal any decision we make.
Read more 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:
Full time study
Secondary students – examples
You’re full time if:
- your secondary school considers your course full time
- you do at least 75% of the full time study load at an institution other than a secondary school
Tertiary students – examples
If you're in a Commonwealth supported course, we work out your study load using your enrolment. You’re full time if you:
- do at least 75% of the equivalent full time study load (EFTSL), over a year, where the normal period of enrolment is a year or similar period, or
- enrol on a semester or trimester basis and do an EFTSL of at least 75% for that period - for example, 0.375 each semester or 0.25 each trimester
If you’re in a fee paying course, you’re full time if:
- your institution considers your course full time, and
- you do at least 75% of the full time study load, or
- you do at least 75% of the average amount of study needed to complete the course in the minimum time, or
- your institution hasn’t defined a full time study load and you have at least 15 hours face to face study a week - this may include lectures and formal meetings with course supervisors
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.
We can’t pay you to study indefinitely. We can only pay you the allowable time for your course. If you only study 75% of the full time study load, you may run out of allowable time. Read more about allowable time for studying while getting Youth Allowance or allowable time while getting Austudy.
Reducing study loads
You may still get Austudy or Youth Allowance if you need to reduce your study load.
You may reduce it to no less than 66% of the full time study load because of:
- course needs, such as:
- timetable clashes
- failing prerequisite subjects
- cancelled subjects
- no unit vacancies
- you need to reduce your load to complete the course
- academic or vocational reasons decided by your education institution
You need to give us a letter outlining 1 of the reasons above from your deputy principal, academic registrar or equivalent so we can reassess your eligibility.
If you reduce your study load due to academic or vocational reasons decided by your institution, it can only apply to your student payment for half of the academic year.
Austudy students with disability
If you have a substantial physical, psychiatric or intellectual disability and can’t study full time or in the minimum time, you may still get Austudy. You need to do at least 25% of the full time study load for the course.
Youth Allowance if you’re sick or have an injury
If you’re sick or have an injury and temporarily can’t study full time, you may still get Youth Allowance as a student. You need to give us medical proof showing you’ll return to full time study when better.
Part time study
Part time study is a study load of less than 75% of a full time study load. Your study load may become part time if you drop 1 or more subjects. Tell us about any changes to your enrolment because it may affect your payment.
If you’re studying part time and are younger than 22 years of age, you may be eligible for Youth Allowance as a job seeker. You need to have a Job Plan and do activities to make up a full time study load.
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.