At what age are you independent?

21 December 2018

You may feel independent at 18 or 21. But if you’re claiming a student payment, we look at your age and other factors.

Coming of age is a great milestone. Along with the opportunity to vote you’re probably doing grown up things like renting with friends and cooking for yourself.

These are all things that show you’ve moved into adulthood. But we don’t look at these things for the purposes of claiming a student payment.

When you claim ABSTUDY or Youth Allowance we assess you as either dependent or independent.

Under 22 and dependent

Most students under 22 are dependent. This means your parents’ income will affect your eligibility and your payment rate. If you’re under 22, we only consider you independent in certain circumstances. 

Under 22 and independent

There are some situations where you’re considered independent if you’re under 22. This includes things like where you live, your personal relationships, and if you have been working. For example, one of these is if you’ve supported yourself through work. This includes working an average of 30 hours per week for at least 18 months during any two year period.

If you live in a regional or remote area, we might consider you independent under different rules. Read about part time work or earnings for rural and remote students.

Once you’re independent, your parents’ income won’t affect your payment rate.

Turning 22

If you're already getting ABSTUDY, or Youth Allowance as a student, you don’t need to do anything. We'll automatically consider you independent when you turn 22.

If you’re not currently getting a payment, you don’t need to wait until you’re independent to apply. You can apply up to 13 weeks before your 22nd birthday. You won’t have to give us your parents' or guardians' income details.

This means you can start getting paid as an independent student when you turn 22.

Next steps

Read more about being dependent or independent.

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Page last updated: 21 December 2018