Assistance for Isolated Children

Financial help when you have children who can’t go to a state school because of geographical isolation, disability or special needs.

Eligibility basics

  • you have a child who can’t go to school unless they live away from home, in a second home or study from home
  • this is because they live in an isolated area with no local state schools or
  • they have a disability or other special need that local state schools can’t meet

Eligibility & payment rates

Eligibility

Eligibility is based on residence requirements, the child's age, approved studies, geographical isolation, special needs or circumstances and living arrangements during the school year.

Read more about eligibility

Approved courses of study and institutions

The student must study full time in an approved course at an approved institution.

Approved courses include:

  • accredited primary or secondary courses through a school, college, special school, distance or online education, or a Northern Territory Homeland Learning Centre
  • home schooling approved by a state or territory education authority
  • vocational education and training, statement of attainment or certificate courses, and other accredited tertiary training programs
  • approved courses for children with disability, ungraded living skills education or training courses in a residential or non-residential institution for children with disability or other special needs

Approved education institutions include:

  • government primary, secondary and senior secondary colleges
  • government special schools
  • Northern Territory Homeland Learning Centres
  • government distance education centres or schools, and Schools of the Air
  • non-government education institutions with primary, ungraded, secondary or special courses, including distance education, accredited by the state or territory education authority
  • government and private vocational education and training, or TAFE institutions that are registered training organisations
  • government and non-government residential or non-residential institutions for children with disability or other special needs

Payment rates

The amount you get depends on the:

  • student's living arrangements during the school year, and
  • number of eligible children in your family

We adjust payment rates on 1 January each year in line with increases in the cost of living. This doesn't apply to the Assistance for Isolated Children Pensioner Education Supplement.

Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme allowance Maximum rate
Boarding Allowance (Basic and Additional)

$10,417 per year, made up of 2 parts:

  • $8,095 - basic
  • $2,322 - additional subject to parental income and actual boarding costs
Second Home Allowance $235.81 per fortnight, per student
Distance Education Allowance $4,047 per year
Assistance for Isolated Children Pensioner Education Supplement $62.40 per fortnight

We pay the parent or carer. However, you can choose to have your payments paid to the student’s school or the boarding provider.

Payment frequency

Payments are made per term or fortnight depending on the payment.

Term payments

You get your payment 4 times a year in advance for:

  • Basic Boarding Allowance and Additional Boarding Allowance for students boarding at a school, hostel or special institution
  • Distance Education Allowance
  • Assistance for Isolated Children Pensioner Education Supplement for students boarding at a school, hostel or special institution

Fortnightly payments

You get your payment fortnightly for:

  • Basic Boarding Allowance and Additional Boarding Allowance for students who board privately
  • Second Home Allowance
  • Assistance for Isolated Children Pensioner Education Supplement for students who board privately

Other arrangements

You get a lump sum Boarding Allowance payment if your child lives at home, but boards for a short time. This is only paid for the actual boarding period.

Other payments

You get Assistance for Isolated Children if you also get:

You can't get Assistance for Isolated Children payments for a student who is on:

  • Youth Allowance
  • ABSTUDY, or
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs Veterans’ Children Education Scheme payments

Some students turning 16 years of age may be eligible for assistance under the Away from Home rate of Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY instead of this scheme and Family Tax Benefit.

Families who get Assistance for Isolated Children and Family Tax Benefit generally get more from these payments compared to the Youth Allowance Away from Home rate and Rent Assistance.

Students at primary or ungraded level getting Disability Support Pension or Parenting Payment single may get Assistance for Isolated Children Pensioner Education Supplement.

Students studying at secondary or tertiary level should apply for:

  • Pensioner Education Supplement, or
  • ABSTUDY Pensioner Education Supplement
Check if your state or territory government provides additional benefits for isolated students.

Parental means test

Under the scheme, only Additional Boarding Allowance is income tested.

Read more about parental means testing

Residence rules

On the day you claim, you and the child you're claiming for must live in Australia and either:

  • be an Australian citizen
  • have a permanent resident visa, or
  • be a New Zealand citizen who permanently lives in Australia

What may be different

You do not need to be living in Australia if the child is:

  • enrolled at school in Australia and is on an international student exchange
  • already getting Distance Education Allowance and is doing full time distance education while overseas for less than 12 months and their education institution approves

Claiming

Check if you're eligible for this payment before you start this claim.

Once you have read about eligibility the next steps are:

  1. register an intent to claim if you' re contacting us in the 4 weeks before 31 December of the study year
  2. complete the claim form
  3. submit your claim and supporting documentation
  4. we assess your claim and let you know the outcome

Next

Managing your payment

Change of circumstances

If your family's circumstances change, this may affect your eligibility and payment.

We review your circumstances annually to make sure you get the right payment.

You need to tell us if your or the student's circumstances change. For example, if:

  • you get Additional Boarding Allowance and your or your partner's income increases or the student's boarding charges increase
  • the student stops boarding or living in the second home
  • the student stops studying, reduces their study load, or changes their education institution
  • your personal circumstances change
  • you change your address or the student changes their term address
  • you don't have to lodge a tax return
  • the care arrangements for the student change, or
  • you or the student leave Australia permanently

If you don't tell us about the changes within 14 days, it may affect your payment. We may pay you incorrectly and you'll have to pay the money back.

If you deliberately don't tell us about changes, we can charge you with fraud, and a recovery fee may apply.

While travelling outside Australia

There are rules about how long we can pay Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme payments outside Australia.

Read more about Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme while travelling outside

My bank account is overdrawn

You can get help to manage your money if your bank account is overdrawn.

Read more about what to do if your account is overdrawn

Page last updated: 15 September 2017