Why aren’t I independent?

3 September 2019

Do you claim Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY? Find out how we assess you as independent and what this means for you.

You’ve turned 18, you can vote and drive, so why don’t we consider you independent for a student payment?

The way we assess independence is different.

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

If you’re dependent, we need your income details and your parents’ income details. We use these details to work out if you can get a payment and how much you can get.

If you’re independent, we only need your income details. Your parents’ income won’t affect your eligibility or payment rate.

If you’re under 22

Most students under 22 are dependent. This means we use your parents’ income to work out your payment.

You need to provide your parents’ income details when you claim your student payment.

We check your parents’ income each year to make sure you’re still eligible for your payment. We also use this reassessment to make sure we’re paying you the right amount.

But there are a few situations where you might be independent if you’re under 22.

When you work

You may be independent if you can prove you’ve supported yourself through work.

This includes working an average of 30 hours per week for at least 18 months.

When you’re in a relationship

You may be independent if you’re any of the following:

  • married, or have been
  • in a registered relationship
  • living in a de facto relationship
  • a member of a couple for at least 12 months.

When you live in a rural or remote location

If you live in a rural or remote area, you might be independent under different rules.

These rules consider all of the following:

  • where your parents’ home is
  • where you study
  • how long you’ve worked for
  • how much you earn.

Read about part time work or earnings for rural and remote students.

When your family situation affects you

You may be independent if you:

  • are 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 or in foster care.

If you’re 22 or older

If you’re 22 or older, you’re independent. This means we don’t use your parents’ income to work out your payment.

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

If you’re not getting a payment, claim up to 13 weeks before you’re 22 and we’ll assess you as independent. You’ll get paid as an independent student once you turn 22.

Next steps

Read more about being dependent or independent for Youth Allowance.

Read more about being dependent or independent for ABSTUDY.

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Page last updated: 20 September 2019