This information is an overview of the changes being made to student payments. For more information about how the new rules will affect you, please visit the Centrelink web site or the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations web site.
Student income supports more independent students
From 1 January 2011 thousands of students seeking Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY support are set to benefit with the lowering of the qualifying age of independence from 24 to 23 years of age.
The Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, said the change is part of a phased approach to reduce the age of independence to 22 by 2012, in recognition of the increasing self-sufficiency of young people as they mature, in line with international and community standards.
'The Government reduced the age of independence to 24 years on 1 April 2010 and already more than 2400 students have gained access to Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY for the first time or have received increased student payments,' Senator Evans said.
'The Government expects 7000 additional students to benefit from the 1 January 2011 change.'
The Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education found that reducing the age of independence to 22 years would achieve significant benefits for students, and importantly, encourage young people to engage in tertiary studies to increase their qualifications and improve their career prospects.
The phased approach allows the Government to achieve its objective of lowering the age of independence to 22 years in a fiscally responsible manner while giving more people a chance to participate in higher education.
The Australian Government's comprehensive reforms to student income support, which commenced on 1 April 2010, support the Government's target that by 2025, 40 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds will hold a bachelor degree.
Other key elements of the reforms to student income support include:
* All university students who receive student payments are entitled to receive a start up scholarship every year. In 2011, the scholarship is valued at $2194.
* Students who live in outer regional, remote and very remote areas, who have to move away from home to study and whose parents earn less than $150,000 a year will be eligible to apply in 2011 under the previous independence test criteria.
* The parental income test has been raised so that families with two children studying away from home can earn more than $146,000 before they lose their allowance.
* Students who choose to move to study may be eligible for an additional relocation scholarship. In 2011, this is worth $4124 in the first year away from home and $1031 each subsequent year.
* From 1 July 2012, students will be able to earn $400 a fortnight (up from $236) without having their payments reduced.