There are changes to student payments that may affect you. For most changes, you won’t need to do anything.
Changes to ABSTUDY Living Allowance
The Under 16 Boarding Supplement will stop. We’ll instead pay ABSTUDY Living Allowance at the away from home rate currently paid to students 16 and older.
This change applies to you if you meet all of the following:
- are younger than 16
- in secondary school
- study away from home
- get ABSTUDY Living Allowance at the away from home rate.
You don’t need to do anything about this change. We’ll automatically increase your payment rate if you’re eligible.
If your boarding provider gets the payment on your behalf, this will continue.
If your payment goes up, your first payment will increase after 1 January 2019.
Changes to scholarships approved for ABSTUDY
If you get a scholarship, we consider it when working out if you’re eligible for ABSTUDY. This includes scholarships from your school or through external providers like a business or charity. This doesn’t include the Relocation Scholarship.
There are changes to the way we approve ABSTUDY for boarding school students who get a secondary school scholarship. The minimum value must be either $6,000 or 25% of the school’s annual boarding and tuition fees, whichever is greater.
You don’t need to do anything about this change.
If you have a scholarship already approved for ABSTUDY, these changes won’t impact you. Your scholarship amount won’t need to meet the new requirements.
Changes to ABSTUDY Fares Allowance
Changes to ABSTUDY Fares Allowance may impact you if you meet both the following:
- you’re a primary or secondary student who gets ABSTUDY
- you study away from home.
More flexible travel
If you get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance, from 1 January 2019 you may get:
- more visits from family or community members paid for by the allowance
- to travel to locations other than your school and home if they’re on your usual travel route
- reduced penalties for missed travel without a valid reason.
Currently, family members can use ABSTUDY Fares Allowance for 1 return trip to attend enrolment interviews or orientation in first term.
You’ll now get 3 return trips per year.
Parents can still use ABSTUDY Fares Allowance up to twice a year to visit a student at school for compassionate reasons.
More convenient travel
There are changes to make travelling more convenient and flexible for students and their families. You’ll be able to travel to locations other than your school and home if they’re on your usual travel route. For example, if there’s a camp at the end of the term, you can travel directly home after camp. Under the previous arrangements, you may have had to travel back to school first.
Reduced penalties for missed travel
Penalties are changing for primary and secondary students if you miss pre-booked ABSTUDY Fares Allowance travel without a valid reason.
Current penalties mean if you miss more than one trip you have to book and pay for travel yourself.
With the changes, if you miss a pre-booked trip without a valid reason, you’ll get a fine. This will be up to a $100 fine for primary and secondary students. We apply this for each trip we’ve booked for you that you miss without a valid reason. However, you’ll still be able to pre-book travel using Fares Allowance.
If you’re a primary or secondary student, you’ll need a Safe Travel Plan to get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance for pre-booked travel.
Safe Travel Plans will be voluntary from 1 January 2019 and compulsory from 1 July 2019.
If you don’t have one by 1 July 2019, you won’t be able to get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance.
A Safe Travel Plan is an agreement between you, your parents and your school.
Your school, boarding or scholarship provider will work with you and your family to develop the plan. You should ask your school about putting a Safe Travel Plan in place.
You or your school may contact us to book travel using ABSTUDY Fares Allowance. When you do, we’ll confirm if there’s a Safe Travel Plan in place before booking travel.
Changes to ABSTUDY payments to boarding providers
We’re changing how we pay your ABSTUDY payment to boarding schools. We won’t make payments as a lump sum. We’ll pay schools and boarding providers in instalments. They’ll get 1 instalment at the start of term and 1 at the end of term.
This means your ABSTUDY payment will follow you if you move to a different school during the school term.
The amount the school or boarding provider gets for the second instalment will be reconciled. We base this reconciled amount on how long you were at the school.
You don’t need to do anything about this change. However your school or boarding provider needs to let us know if you change schools. This is so we pay them the right amount.
Changes to Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY for students in regional and remote areas
You may be working a gap year to get Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY Living Allowance as an independent. If you’re from a regional or remote area, there are some changes that may affect you.
The parental income limit for students from regional and remote areas is increasing. Find out which area your family home is in using the Student Regional Area Search service.
The income limit will increase from $150,000 to $160,000. Your parents can now earn up to $160,000 a financial year and we’ll still consider you as an independent student. You'll also need to meet the other criteria for payment of Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY Living Allowance.
The parental income limit will increase by $10,000 for each additional child in your family who’s younger than 22.
There are also changes to what details you need to give us with your claim.
When you apply, you need to give us your parents’ income details. You can choose from 1 of 3 financial years, whichever is most beneficial for you. This could be either the completed financial year:
- before you take a gap year, referred to as the pre-gap tax year
- of your gap year, referred to as base year
- following your gap year, referred to as post base year.
This means you can check if you’re eligible before deciding to take a gap year and claiming the payment.