Student Allowances Summed Up

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 some 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 are pretty standard and 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.  

Bear in mind that meeting these basic requirements doesn’t automatically guarantee you will receive a student allowance. There are further factors that help determine whether you really need this financial assistance and, if so, how much money you can get. These are: 

  • Your income 
  • If you have children 
  • If you have a partner (your partner’s income will be taken into account) 
  • Your parents’ income (if you’re under 24 and don’t have kids) 
  • If you live at home/with your parents while you study 

How much money can you get? 

The amount of money you can expect to get each week will depend on your circumstances; however, these are the maximum student allowance payments: 

  • If you’re single and have no children, you could receive up to $210.13 a week  
  • If you’re single and have children, you could receive up to $325.98 a week  
  • If you have a partner, you could receive up to $350.20 a week 

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. 

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), with the money paid directly to your bank account.  

It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to receive a benefit from Work and Income while receiving a student allowance. However, the good news is that you will still receive your students 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 enroll for a new study period (usually once a year). 

The fastest and easiest way to apply is online at 

It’s a good idea to apply as soon as possible because 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 money. 

Find out more about managing your money