The country of Australia has implemented the Youth Allowance program for young students who need financial help while they are studying. However, not everyone finishes their schooling before the age of 25. Perhaps you got delayed by starting a family, needed to meet other personal obligations, or simply want to continue or change your field of study for other reasons. If that’s the case, you may qualify for another form of Australian assistance, which is known as AUStudy.
What is AUStudy?
AUStudy is financial help given to Australian residents who are either full-time apprentices or full-time students. However, in order to qualify as an apprentice your income must not be over a certain amount. If you live with a partner, their income must not exceed a certain amount either. That amount can vary, depending on whether or not you and your partner also have children.
The Resident Requirement
Although you may not necessarily have to be an Australian citizen to receive AUStudy help, you do need to be a legal resident of the country. Not only that, but you must be a resident for at least two years before you can apply for AUStudy help. You must also continue to live in Australia throughout the time that you receive benefits.
Income and Asset Tests
Simply being a resident for at least 2 years and being 25 years old or older does not guarantee that you will receive AUStudy benefits. Whether or not you will receive benefits and, if so, how much you will receive will depend on your income and assets. Therefore, you will have to undergo income and assets tests before you can qualify. You can view an income test chart at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/personal-income-tests.
As for your assets, depending on whether you are single, living with a partner, or have children, you may qualify for benefits, even if your liquid assets exceed the set amount of $5,500 (single) or $11,000 (partnered). However, you may not be able to start receiving benefits for as much as 13 weeks after making a claim.
Assets counted as part of the assets test may include:
- Multiple Types of Bank Accounts
- Homes That You Own
- Personal Effects
- Insurance Policies
For a more in-depth list of assets that may be considered as part of your AUStudy assets test, visit http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/assets.
Maximum AUStudy Earnings
The exact amount you can earn through the AUStudy program will vary depending on your family status, income, assets, and other factors. However, there are maximum expected earnings amounts per fortnight (14 days). Your benefits will not exceed those amounts, which are:
- $407.50 – Single
- $533.80 – Single Parent
- $407.50 – Partnered
- $447.40 – Partnered with Children
- $495.00 – Unemployed and Single
- $447.40 – Unemployed and Partnered
Ongoing Claim Requirements and Monitoring
You must continue to meet your study requirements while collecting AUStudy payments. If you are found to have not met your study obligations, you may be required to pay back benefits that you have collected. The exact requirements will depend on your level of study. For example, honours students are given 1 year of benefits beyond the minimum time required to complete the course. For more information on allowable study time and ongoing study requirements, visit http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/centrelink/austudy/allowable-time.
AUStudy Versus ABStudy
It’s important to be aware that Australia also has a program called ABStudy, which is similar to AUStudy. However, ABStudy is for Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal residents of the country. There are also some differences in how the benefits amounts for both programs are calculated.
How to File an AUStudy Claim
Before you file an AUStudy claim, you should make sure that you meet all eligibility requirements. You can do so by visiting http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/austudy. If you feel that you meet those requirements, you should gather the information that you need in order to make a claim. That information should include your tax file numbers, your bank account numbers, proof of residence, and information about your course studies.
The simplest way to file an AUStudy claim is online. You can begin the process by visiting http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/centrelink/austudy/claiming and following the instructions on the page. You can also start a claim over the telephone by calling 132 490.