Can you get a Student Allowance?
Being a student is a fun and rewarding experience
But it can also be an expensive one – especially if you’re flatting, unable to earn much while studying or have to travel far to get to classes.
So it’s no surprise many students find it a real struggle to keep on top of basic living expenses such as rent, groceries and transport while studying.
To help with these living costs, the government offers weekly payments known as Student Allowances.
The best thing about this money is that, unlike Student Loans, you don’t have to pay it back.
Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? However, not everyone qualifies for (or needs) a Student Allowance.
Who gets a Student Allowance?
- The basic requirements take into account things like your age (you generally have to be over 18 although there are some exceptions), whether you’re studying full-time (again there is some flexibility), the type of course you’re doing and whether you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.
Meeting these basic requirements doesn’t automatically guarantee you will receive a Student Allowance.
It can get a little complicated
Other factors that help determine whether you need this support (and how much money you can get) are:
- How much you earn from other sources
You can earn up to $217.22 a week (before tax), before it affects your Student Allowance. After this, your Student Allowance reduces cent for cent.
Here's an example:
Your Student Allowance weekly payment is $230.12 (after tax) or $257.12 (before tax).
You worked last week and earned $300 (before tax).
Studylink don't count $217.22 (before tax) of what you earned last week as income, but the difference, $300 - $217.22 = $82.78 of your earnings (before tax) will be counted as income
This means your Student Allowance payment will be reduced by $82.78 (before tax).
- If you have children
- If you have a partner (your partner’s income will be taken into account)
- Your parents’ income
- Once your parents' combined income is over approx $55,000, the amount of Student Allowance you could receive starts to drop
- If their combined income is over $95,400, you get no Student Allowance at all
- These cut-off levels can fluctuate depending on if you live at home, if you have siblings that are studying, and if your parents are together or not.
- Use this calculator to see what you may be able to get as a Student Allowance
Can you get a Student Allowance?
- As part of your Student Allowance you may also be able to get a special accommodation benefit to help with your accommodation costs.
- These payments can range from $30 - $60 a week and are also based on your individual circumstances. Check them out.
Could you qualify for an Accommodation Benefit? Find our here
Could you qualify for an Accommodation Benefit?
How does it all work?
- If you are eligible to receive a Student Allowance your payments will start from either the date your allowance is approved or from the second week of your course (whichever comes later).
- The money is paid directly to your bank account.
- You can get a Student Allowance for a total of 200 weeks, or around 5 years of study
- You won’t be able to receive a benefit from Work and Income while receiving a Student Allowance.
- Good news: you will still receive your Student Allowance payments over study breaks of three weeks or less.
How do you apply for a Student Allowance?
- Just like applying for a Student Loan, you will need to apply for a Student Allowance each time you enrol for a new study period (usually once a year).
- The fastest and easiest way to apply is online at www.studylink.govt.nz
- It’s a good idea to apply as soon as possible when you know what you're up to.
- If you apply late (i.e. after your course has already started, or after you become eligible) your payments may not be backdated so you risk losing out on free money.