Changes to student payments from 1 January 2019

There are changes to student payments that may affect you. For most changes, you won’t need to do anything.

Watch our videos about changes to student payments.

Changes to ABSTUDY Living Allowance

The Under 16 Boarding Supplement has stopped. We now pay ABSTUDY Living Allowance at the away from home rate currently paid to students 16 and older.

This change affects you if you meet all of the following. You:

  • are younger than 16
  • are in secondary school
  • study away from home
  • get ABSTUDY Living Allowance at the away from home rate.

We increased the payment rate for eligible students from 1 January 2019. You don’t need to do anything.

If your boarding provider gets the payment on your behalf, this hasn’t changed.

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 were changes to the way we approve ABSTUDY for boarding school students who get a secondary school scholarship. The minimum value is now either $6,000 or 25% of the school’s annual boarding and tuition fees, whichever is greater.

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.

More visits

Family members can now get up to 3 return trips for any of the following reasons:

  • to attend an event at your school, like a graduation, school performance or award ceremony
  • if you’re homesick, or at risk of suspension or expulsion and their visit will help you stay in school.

Parents can still use ABSTUDY Fares Allowance for 1 return trip 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 can now 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 straight home after camp. Before, you may have had to travel back to school first.

Reduced penalties for missed travel

Penalties have changed for primary and secondary students who miss pre-booked ABSTUDY Fares Allowance travel without a valid reason.

If you miss a pre-booked trip without a valid reason, you may get a debt. This will be up to a $100 debt 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.

Previous penalties meant if you missed more than one trip you’d have to book and pay for future travel yourself.

Safer travel

If you’re a primary or secondary student younger than 18, you’ll need a Safe Travel Plan. You must do this to get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance for pre-booked travel.

Safe Travel Plans are voluntary from 1 January 2019. They will be compulsory from 1 July 2019. If you don’t have one by 1 July 2019, you won’t get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance for pre-booked travel.

A Safe Travel Plan is an agreement between you, your school and family. You can read more about Safe Travel Plans on the Department of Social Services website.

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’ve changed how we pay your ABSTUDY payment to boarding schools. We won’t make lump sum payments. We now pay schools and boarding providers 2 payments. One 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, some changes that started on 1 January 2019 may affect you.

The parental income limit for students from regional and remote areas has increased. Find out which area your family home is in using the Student Regional Area Search service.

The parental income limit has increased from $150,000 to $160,000 from 1 January 2019. Your parents can now earn up to $160,000 a financial year and we’ll still consider you as an independent student. You’ll still need to meet the other criteria to get Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY Living Allowance.

The new parental income limit will also go up by $10,000 for each eligible sibling in your family. This is for children who are younger than 22. For example, Luke lives with his Mum and Dad and his 2 school-aged sisters. His 2 sisters are eligible children so the cut-off will be $180,000. That’s because the income limit of $160,000 increases by $10,000 for each sister.

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.

Related subjects

Page last updated: 20 May 2019

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