ABSTUDY Residential Costs Option

Payment to help students with the costs of living away from home to study.

About the Residential Costs

The ABSTUDY Residential Costs Option can help eligible students to manage the costs of living away from home to study.

If you are eligible and choose this option, we’ll pay your educational institution or hostel directly for costs like:

  • accommodation
  • meals, if provided
  • laundry charges, and
  • other compulsory fees

This option doesn’t cover rental bonds or other types of refundable fees.

While we’re paying your residential costs, we’ll reduce your ABSTUDY Living Allowance or not pay the ABSTUDY Pensioner Education Supplement. When there are no residential costs, like during study breaks, you’ll get your full ABSTUDY Living Allowance or ABSTUDY Pensioner Education Supplement.


You may be eligible for the Residential Costs Option if you’re a:

  • tertiary student, or
  • secondary student undertaking approved studies at a university

You must also:

You can’t choose this option if you:

  • get a Relocation Scholarship, Commonwealth Accommodation Scholarship or another equivalent scholarship, unless you are offered a place in a residential college after the scholarship has been paid, or
  • are an Australian Apprentice

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

Example 1

John got a Relocation Scholarship on 21 February 2016. On 20 March 2016, the residential college offered him accommodation on campus. He accepted it and moved into the college on 25 March 2016.

John can choose the Residential Costs Option as he was offered a place at the college after he got the Relocation Scholarship.

Example 2

Sita was offered accommodation at a residential college on 20 January 2016, but she declined. She got a Commonwealth Accommodation Scholarship in February 2016. On 20 March 2016, she decided to move into the college.

Sita can’t choose the Residential Costs Option as she was offered a place at the college before she got the Commonwealth Accommodation Scholarship.

Choosing the Residential Costs Option

Before applying for the Residential Costs Option, you should compare your options.


Luke is 18 years of age and approved to live away from home. He is in his first year of university and will live on campus for 36 weeks of the year. He will live off campus for 16 weeks. His ABSTUDY Living Allowance is $300 per fortnight. Luke can also get Rent Assistance when he is living on campus. His residential costs are $280 per week.

Choice 1 – Luke applies for the Residential Costs Option

While Luke is living on campus for 36 weeks, his ABSTUDY Living Allowance will be reduced to $41.60 per fortnight. For the other 16 weeks, Luke will get his full ABSTUDY Living Allowance rate of $300 but will not get Rent Assistance.

Payment Rate Yearly total
Living Allowance for 36 weeks on campus $41.60 x 18 fortnights $748.80
Living Allowance for 16 weeks off campus $300 x 8 fortnights $2,400.00
Residential Fees $280 x 36 weeks $10,080.00
  Total $13,228.80

Choice 2 – Luke does not apply for the Residential Costs Option

Luke will get ABSTUDY Living Allowance all year and Rent Assistance while he is living on campus for 36 weeks.

Payment Rate Yearly total
Living Allowance $300 x 26 fortnights $7,800.00
Rent Assistance $128.40 x 18 fortnights $2,311.20
Relocation Scholarship $4,269 x 1 $4,269.00
  Total $14,380.20

In Luke’s first year of study, it is better if he does not choose the Residential Costs Option.

However, in his next years of study, the Residential Costs Option may be the best option as his rate of Relocation Scholarship will decrease.

How to apply

You must call the ABSTUDY line to apply for the Residential Costs option.

To support your application, you’ll also have to give us the bill from your college or hostel showing your residential costs for each term or semester. You can submit the bill:

  • online
  • in person at a service centre
  • by post to:
    Department of Human Services
    Student Services
    Reply Paid 7804
    Canberra BC ACT 2610

Page last updated: 27 August 2017