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Full-time students 25 years of age or older should apply for Austudy. Under 25’s should apply for Youth Allowance.
Lodge an intention to claim with the Centrelink call centre (132 490), visit your local Centrelink office or send a message through their website www.centrelink.gov.au.
If you get your application and all the associated paperwork into a Centrelink office within 14 days and your claim is approved, you will normally be back paid to the day you lodged your intention to claim.
You may face a delay in payments due to Waiting or Penalty Periods.
If you are a new Australian residents you will need to wait 2 years before you can get a payment.
If you have more than $2500 ($5000 before March 2011) in cash, trust funds, shares etc. you need to serve a Liquid Assets Waiting Period. The period is one week for every $500 you have above $2500, to a maximum of 13 weeks. There are some exemptions, including if you have high immediate expenses for study. (See the How Savings Affect Centrelink Payments leaflet)
The maximum payment as of March 2011 is $388.70 per fortnight, if you live away from the parental home plus rent assistance of up to $115.20.
To get Austudy or Youth Allowance you must “qualify” and then the “payable” each fortnight.
How To Qualify
You qualify if you satisfy ALL of the following conditions:
Dependent versus Independent
Being “independent” for Centrelink means your parents’ income is not assessed in determining your eligibility. If you are 23 years old or over you are automatically independent. Next year this age of independence will be 22. For Youth Allowance the main ways to be independent include:
There are other ways of being independent. Check the SRC independence leaflet.
If you cannot prove your “independence”, you will be treated as “dependent”, even if you are not getting any support from your parent/s. Parental income over $44,165 per year may start to reduce your Youth Allowance. Parental income over $150,000 per year may render you ineligible. For a more detailed look at your specific situation check the SRC How Parental Income Affects Youth Allowance leaflet.
Parent Income Test
This is only considered if you are “dependent”. Note that if your Personal Income Test has a greater effect on your payment it will be considered instead.
Personal Income Test
This applies to everyone on Austudy and Youth Allowance. Your payment is reduced by $0.50 for every dollar that your pre-tax income exceeds $236 per fortnight and $0.60 for every dollar above $316 per fortnight.
However, a mechanism called the Student Income Bank is used to average out your income for this income test. Check the How Income Affects Payments leaflet.
Partner Income Test
Applies if you are “partnered”. Your Youth Allowance or Austudy payment is reduced by $0.60 for every dollar your partner’s gross income in the fortnight goes over a set “cut off” point. This point is where they would not be payable if they were on a Centrelink payments. In March 2011 this amount was $897.17 gross per fortnight. This figure could be higher depending on a range of circumstances and payments. Check the Relationships leaflets.
The Assets Test does not include the value of your primary residence. If your assets exceed the threshold you will receive no payment.
For a single Independent home owner the threshold is $181,750. This amount is raised to $258,000 for a couple. For a single non-home owner the threshold is $313,250. This amount is raised to $389,500 for a couple.
If you are “dependent” or married or in a marriage like relationship Centrelink will also look at your “family’s” assets. No payment can be made if your family’s assets exceed $598,000. There are some exceptions, for example if your family are farmers. Ask SRC Help for more information