Income and assets tests for ABSTUDY

The amount of ABSTUDY you get will depend on your personal circumstances.

ABSTUDY payments with an income and assets test

The following ABSTUDY payments are subject to an income and assets test:

All other ABSTUDY payments and allowances aren’t subject to an income and assets test.

If you’re dependent

If you’re dependent, we’ll use a personal income test and a parental means test to work out how much ABSTUDY you can get.

Read more about dependent or independent for ABSTUDY.

If you’re independent

If you’re independent, we’ll use a personal income test and personal assets test to work out how much ABSTUDY you can get. If you have a partner, we’ll also use the partner income test.

If you’re independent, we may not look at your parents' or guardians’ income. We may look at it if you’re from a regional or remote area and applying for independence. This is because you’ve met independence conditions by completing part time work. In this case, you may be eligible for ABSTUDY if their income is under $150,000.

How we test personal income and assets

Your personal situation will determine which income and assets test we’ll use to work out your payment rate.

The income and assets tests we use are:

  • Personal income test
  • Personal assets test
  • Partner income test, and
  • Parental means test which includes the:
    • Parental income test, and
    • Maintenance income test

Personal income test

We may use a personal income test to decide how much ABSTUDY Living Allowance you can get. We’ll use the personal income test if you’re 16 or older, or an independent Australian Apprentice.

The personal income test assesses your gross income. This is the income you get before any deductions, like tax.

The amount you earn can affect how much we pay you.

Fortnightly income Effect on payment
$437 or less None
Between $437 and $524 Reduced by 50 cents for every dollar over
$524 or more Reduced by $43.50, plus 60 cents for every dollar over $524

You can use Income Bank to earn more without affecting your payment. Read more about Income Bank.

Personal assets test

If you’re an independent student or Australian Apprentice, your assets can affect your payment. There are different assets limits depending on your situation. When you claim ABSTUDY Living Allowance, you need to tell us the current market value of:

  • your assets, and
  • your partners’ assets if you have a partner

Read more about assets and the asset test limits.

If you’re in severe financial hardship but aren’t eligible for ABSTUDY because of your assets, you can apply under Asset Hardship provisions.

How we test partner income and assets

We use the partner income test if:

  • you’re an independent student, or
  • Australian Apprentice with a partner

The partner income test assesses your partner’s gross income. This is the income they get before any deduction, like tax.

If you’re 21 or younger, we reduce your payment by 60 cents for every $1 your partner earns over the threshold. The threshold amount depends on your partner’s circumstances, for example, their age and if they get a payment from us.

If you’re 22 or older, your partner can earn up to $964 a fortnight and not affect your ABSTUDY.  We reduce your payment by 50 cents for every dollar over $964. If you have dependent children, your partner can earn more before it affects your payment. The amount depends on your child’s age and circumstances.

How we test parental income and assets

We test parental income in 2 parts:

Parental income test

Your parents or guardians need to give us their income details if you’re:

The parental income test won’t apply if you’re in state care, or your parents or guardians:

In 2018, we assess your parents’ or guardians’ taxable income from the 2016-17 tax year.

How parental income for tax year 2016-17 affects your payment

Parental income Effect on payment
$52,706 or less No change, however it may still be affected by the maintenance income test.
More than $52,706 Reduced by 20 cents for every dollar over. This depends on number of children in your family pool.

You can use the online rate estimator to work out how much you may get based on your family circumstances.

We look at the income of who you normally live with, or you last lived with if you don’t live with either parent or guardian now. This includes step parents if you normally live with them.

Parental income includes:

  • combined parental taxable income
  • tax free pensions and benefits
  • fringe benefits
  • income from outside Australia
  • reportable superannuation contributions, and
  • total net investment losses such as negative gearing losses

If your parent or guardian pays child support or maintenance, we remove it from their parental income.

How the family pool works

The family pool refers to the dependent children in your family who may affect your payment, like your siblings.

Your parents’ or guardians’ income may affect the amount you get. Income earned by other dependent children 21 or younger, may also affect it.

When there is another dependent child in your family pool, your payment could increase. If a dependent child leaves your family pool, your payment may decrease.

We can include dependent children in your family pool if they:

The more children in your family, the less your parents’ or guardians’ income affects your payment. We may also assess shared care arrangements.

If you need to update your family details, call us.

Changes to income

Your parents or guardians must tell us if there are any changes to their income. Sometimes, changes to their income can mean your payment changes. Your payment may also change if your siblings' circumstances change.

Where there’s been a change, the parental income test can be worked out on their income for the current tax year. For example, if you study in 2018 and their income has significantly changed, we may use their income for the 2017-18 tax year.

Your parents or guardians must update their income every year. Read more about the annual parental income test reassessment.

Maintenance income test

The maintenance income test applies to you if you’re:

We consider the amount of child support or voluntary maintenance your parents or guardians get for you to work out your payment.

Your parents or guardians need to tell us about any voluntary maintenance they get if we haven’t done a child support assessment. If we have, they won’t 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, and
  • school fees and other payments made on behalf, or for your benefit

You may be exempt from this test if one of your parents or guardians are permanently blind, and get:

  • Age Pension
  • Disability Support Pension, or
  • a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Service Pension, Veteran Payment or Income Support Supplement

The maintenance income 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.

The number of siblings you have and payments they get can affect this amount.

Maintenance income free area per year

Your parents or guardians get maintenance for: The maintenance income free area is
Just you $1,587.75
You and other siblings who get Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY Living Allowance or School Fees Allowance Group 2 $1,587.75 plus $529.25 for each sibling. Then divide the total by the number of siblings
You and other siblings who are eligible for Family Tax Benefit or Assistance for Isolated Children Additional Boarding Allowance $529.25

Example of maintenance income free area calculation

In Jeff’s family, he is 1 of 3 children who all get ABSTUDY Living Allowance. His parents get maintenance income for all 3 children.

The maintenance income free area for the first sibling is $1,587.75. We add $529.25 for each of the other 2 siblings. We divide the total $2,646.25, by the number of siblings, being 3. So, Jeff’s maintenance income free area is $882.08.

Balancing your ABSTUDY Living Allowance and School Fees Allowance Group 2 payments

We use your parents’ or guardians’ child support assessment or voluntary maintenance to estimate your annual maintenance income. This can change throughout the year.

At the end of the financial year, we’ll balance your payments based on the actual maintenance income they got for you.

We’ll let you know if we’ve paid you too much or not enough.

Page last updated: 6 June 2018