Higher rates of ABSTUDY when living away from home

You may get a higher rate of ABSTUDY if you need to live away from home to study or do your Australian Apprenticeship.

We’ll assess you for the higher rate of ABSTUDY when you claim or tell us of a change to your circumstances.

Primary school students

You may get a higher rate of ABSTUDY if you're living away from home to repeat the final year of primary school so you can start secondary studies.

Secondary school students

You may get a higher rate if you’re in secondary school and live away from home to study if:

Tertiary students and secondary students not at a secondary school

You may get a higher rate if you’re a tertiary student, or a secondary student not studying at a secondary school, and live away from home to study if:

If you’re a tertiary student you may also get a higher rate if:

  • it’s compulsory to live at your place of study while studying

Australian Apprentices

You may get a higher rate if you live away from home to do your Australian Apprenticeship if:

Independent students and apprentices

You’ll get a higher rate if you’re a full time independent student or Australian Apprentice living away from your parents’ or guardians’ home.

You can only get a higher rate of ABSTUDY if you’re independent, 21 or younger and living in your parents’ home if:

  • you’re married, have been married or are in a registered relationship
  • you have, or have had, a dependent child
  • you’re 16 or older and have been living with your partner for at least 6 months
  • you have care or custody of another person’s dependent child, student or Australian Apprentice, or
  • you’re 16 or older and live in an Aboriginal community after being adopted or fostered by a non-Aboriginal family for more than 2 years

Higher rate of ABSTUDY criteria

Travel time or access

You may get a higher rate if you live away from home because daily travel from home to your place of study or workplace is impossible or unreasonable.

Travel is impossible or unreasonable if:

  • it takes more than 90 minutes - including reasonable walking and waiting time, or
  • blocked roads, flooding or unreliable transport make it hard to travel at least 20 days in the school year

If you’re a secondary school student, travel may also be unreasonable if your home is at least:

  • 56 km from a suitable school, or
  • 4.5 km from the nearest transport service and at least 16 km from a suitable school

Local government school has a limited program or facilities

You may get a higher rate if you live away from home to study because your local government secondary schools are limited program schools.

Limited program schools:

  • don’t offer all year levels or grades, or
  • don’t have facilities or programs for you to get your Year 12 certificate or an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)

Approved special course

You may get a higher rate if you live away from home to do an approved special course because no government school within reasonable travel time or access offers one. A special course is:

  • study in drama, music, art, dance, sport or technology at a government school with special school status in the subject
  • a secondary course with 2 agricultural subjects or sometimes 1
  • a full time secondary course that gives you a specialist qualification
  • a secondary course that’s a prerequisite for a specific tertiary course, or
  • a secondary course with an Indigenous studies subject that’s:
    • accredited for exams by the state or territory education authority
    • endorsed by the local state or territory Indigenous Advisory Group, or another formally recognised authority, and
    • where you study at least 4 hours per week

The state or territory education authority must approve the course at the government school you’re enrolled in.

Disability, health condition or special education need

You may get a higher rate if you live away from home because you have a disability or health condition and you:

  • board at a special education institution
  • need special facilities or a special environment
  • can’t travel to school daily
  • need regular medical treatment you can’t get near your home, or
  • need to live in a different climate

A disability or health condition includes:

  • a physical or intellectual disability
  • a psychological, emotional or behavioural problem
  • a medical condition, or
  • pregnancy

Home conditions

You may get a higher rate if you live away from home because conditions at home, or in the community, seriously affect your ability to study or do your apprenticeship.

For example:

  • you often lack basic needs such as food, water, clothing, power, shelter or sleep
  • drug or alcohol abuse, criminal or illegal activity, or violence in the home seriously threaten your health and wellbeing, or
  • noise, overcrowding, chronic illness or lack of facilities prevent or disrupt your study at home

Parents move or are away a lot because of work

You may get a higher rate if you live away from home to study because both your parents:

  • move a lot for work
  • need to be away from home at least 40 week nights in the school year for work, or
  • don’t normally live in one place during the school week because their work needs regular or long travel. For example, they’re interstate truck drivers

Scholarship to an independent boarding school

You may get a higher rate if you live away from home because you’re offered a scholarship to an independent boarding school and:

  • it’s an approved school and course of secondary studies
  • boarding is a necessary part of the school
  • the school has a Socio Economic Status (SES) funding score for Commonwealth General Recurrent Grants of 100 or more, or the schools SES funding has dropped from 100 or above to between 98 and 99 for no more than 2 years
  • the scholarship covers at least 15% of your total board and tuition, and
  • the local Indigenous Consultative Body, or their nominee, has helped set up the scholarship and gives ongoing guidance

Read more about the SES funding score on the Department of Education and Training website. If you’re not sure, we can tell you if your school and course are approved.

Scholarship to a Highly Effective or High Expectations School

You may get a higher rate if you live away from home because you’re offered a scholarship and it’s:

  • for an approved school and course of secondary studies, and
  • an Australian Government supported scholarship

An Australian Government supported scholarship includes Indigenous Youth Leadership Program or similar scholarships paid under the Australian Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy, such as:

  • Madalah SOAR Scholarship
  • Presbyterian Ladies’ College Indigenous Scholarship Program – Peppermint Grove Western Australia
  • MADEC Indigenous Young People’s Program, and
  • Yalari Education Pathways Program

Other Australian Government supported scholarships include:

  • Cape York Institute's Academic Leaders - Secondary
  • Higher Expectations Program - Northern Territory
  • Rosemary Bishop Indigenous Education Scholarship
  • Sporting Chance Program or similar projects paid under the Australian Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy, including at former Sporting Chance Academies
  • Kajji Foundation Scholarship
  • Australian Indigenous Education Foundation Scholarship Program
  • Woomera Educational Scholarship Trust
  • Kimberley Education Excellence Program
  • Northern Territory Government Indigenous Education Excellence Scholarship
  • Ngurra Jirama Foundation Scholarship

If you’re not sure, we can tell you if your school and course are approved.

Transition School Scholarship

You may get a higher rate if you live away from home because you’re offered a scholarship to:

  • the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS) to help you get a scholarship at a high performing school, or
  • an MITS partner school after completing the MITS program

Proof to support your claim

You may need to give us documents to prove you need to live away from home.

Situation Documents to give us
Primary school student needing to repeat final year of primary school A letter from your school telling us you need to repeat the final year of primary school.
It takes more than 90 minutes to travel from home to your place of study or work A written statement of the travel time by public transport, including waiting and walking time.
Road or weather conditions make it hard to get from home to your place of study or work

A letter from your local council describing:

  • the conditions, and
  • number of times in the past year travel between your home and place of study or work was affected
Secondary school student whose home is at least 56 km from a suitable school A written statement of the km between your home and school.
Secondary school student whose home is at least 4.5 km from the nearest transport service and at least 16 km from a suitable school

A written statement of the km between your home and the:

  • transport service, and
  • school
Local government school has a limited program or facilities If it isn’t on our list of limited program schools, a letter from the local education authority confirming the school can’t give you the right level of schooling.
Special course in drama, art, music, sport, technology, Indigenous studies or agriculture

If it isn’t on our list of schools that offer an approved special course, a letter from the state or territory education authority telling us the:

  • school meets the special course requirements, and
  • course isn’t available at government schools in your area
Special course that gives you a specialist qualification

A letter from the state or territory education authority telling us:

  • it's a specialist course not generally available at secondary schools, and
  • the completion certificate is a formal qualification
Special course that’s an essential prerequisite for a tertiary course
  • a statement with details of the tertiary course, and
  • a letter from the school telling us you have potential to get into the tertiary course and are enrolled in the prerequisite subjects
Can’t travel to school daily due to disability or a health condition

A letter from a medical authority telling us:

  • what your disability is, and
  • you couldn’t live at home and travel to school daily
Need regular medical treatment
  • a written statement with full details of travel required for treatment if you were living at home, and
  • a letter from a medical authority at the treatment centre telling us you need regular treatment
Need to live in a different climate

A letter from a medical authority saying:

  • your medical condition and how the local environment affects it, and
  • the area you’re going to school in is less likely to cause your medical condition
Excluded from all local government schools A letter from the local education authority telling us you’ve been excluded from all local government schools.
Racial discrimination at all local government schools

Written statements saying discrimination disrupted your study and the problem couldn’t be fixed from:

  • your parent or guardian
  • all government schools where you faced racial discrimination, and
  • an Indigenous education organisation or an incorporated Indigenous organisation
Home conditions make it hard to study A written statement from an independent authority with firsthand knowledge of your situation.
Parents move a lot because of work

A written statement of:

  • dates and locations the family has moved to in the past 12 months, and
  • expected dates and locations of moves in the next 12 months
Parents are away a lot because of work

A written statement of:

  • the type of work, and
  • the times they are away from home
Independent boarding school scholarship

A letter from your school telling us:

  • you were awarded the scholarship
  • an Indigenous education body’s been involved, and
  • the percentage of your tuition and boarding fees the scholarship will cover
Scholarship to a Highly Effective or High Expectation school

A letter from your school telling us:

  • the scholarship or program you’ve been granted, and
  • what percentage of your tuition and boarding fees the scholarship will cover
Transition School Scholarship

A letter from Melbourne Indigenous Transition School telling us about the placement at the partner school.

Compulsory to live at your education institution

A letter from the education institution confirming:

  • it’s compulsory to live on campus, and
  • the dates you need to live on campus

Other benefits

If you’re approved to live away from home, we may give you other help, like:

Page last updated: 22 September 2017