ABSTUDY

Income and assets tests

We use income and assets tests to check if you can get some ABSTUDY payments and how much you might get.

What ABSTUDY payments have an income and assets test

Some ABSTUDY payments are subject to an income and assets test. These include:

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

When you’re dependent

If you’re dependent, we’ll work out how much ABSTUDY you can get. To do this we’ll use either the:

Read more about dependent or independent for ABSTUDY.

When you’re independent

If you’re independent, we’ll work out how much ABSTUDY you can get. To do this we’ll use the:

If you have a partner, we’ll also use the partner income test.

We won’t use the personal income test if you’re an independent student younger than 16.

How we test personal income and assets

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

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 $437
$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 partner’s assets if you have a partner

Read more about assets and the asset test limits.

If you’re over the assets limits and are in severe financial hardship, you can apply under the 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, like their age.

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.

What the parental means test is

We use the parental means to assess parental income. There are 2 parts:

Parental income test

If you’re dependent, we need your parents’ or guardians’ income details.  

We also need their details if you’re getting ABSTUDY Living Allowance or School Fees Allowance Group 2, and you’re:

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

It also won’t apply if your parents or guardians have a Health Care Card, unless it’s a:

We’ll apply the parental income test if your parents or guardians:

  • get an income support payment, and
  • their income support payment reduces to zero for 1 fortnight or more because of how much they earn

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 the maintenance income test may still affect it.
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. We do this even if you don’t live with either parents or guardians 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 parents or guardians pay 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.

When there’s 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.

If your parents’ or guardians’ income has changed

We can use their income for the current tax year to work out the parental income test. If you study in 2018 and their income has significantly changed, we may use their 2017–18 tax year income.

We reassess your payment every year based on your parents’ or guardians’ income. Read more about the annual parental income test reassessment.

Maintenance income test

If you’re dependent, we’ll apply the maintenance income test to work out your payment rate. The test considers how much child support or voluntary maintenance your parents or guardians get for you.

It applies if you’re getting ABSTUDY Living Allowance or School Fees Allowance Group 2, and are:

If we haven’t done a child support assessment, your parents or guardians need to tell us about voluntary maintenance they get for you and your siblings. If we have, they won’t need to provide 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 of, or for, your benefit

You may be exempt from this test if 1 of your parents or guardians is permanently blind, and gets:

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

The maintenance income free area

Your parents or guardians can get a certain amount of child support or voluntary maintenance for you before it affects your payment rate. We call this the maintenance income free area.  

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 $1,620.60
You and other siblings who get Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY Living Allowance or School Fees Allowance Group 2 $1,620.60 plus $540.20 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 $540.20

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 $1,620.60 We add $540.20 for each of the other 2 siblings. We divide the total $2,701, by the number of siblings, being 3. So, Jeff’s maintenance income free area is $900.33

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 using 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: 20 August 2018