Studying is expensive. Combine piles of student debt with minimal working hours and you’re left with a bleeding wallet. This is where the Student Allowance comes in. Canstar explores everything you need to know in this guide to the Student Allowance in NZ.

Guide to the Student Allowance in NZ. In this article we cover:

What is the Student Allowance?

The Student Allowance is a financial assistance program provided by the government to help eligible students with their living expenses while they study. It is designed to support students who may not have the financial means to fully support themselves during their studies.

→Related article: Can NZ Citizens Get a Student Loan in Australia?

Am I eligible for the Student Allowance?

To get a Student Allowance, you must meet certain criteria. In most cases you’ll need to be:

  • Aged between 18-65
  • Studying full-time

In some circumstances, you’ll be eligible if you’re 16-17 or studying part-time.

Residency criteria
You need to meet the residency requirements. For most people, this means you need to be either:

  • A New Zealand citizen, or
  • Ordinarily a resident in New Zealand and have:
    • Lived in New Zealand for at least three years and
    • Held a residence class visa for at least three years

Course criteria

Your course will also need to meet certain criteria. You must be studying either:

  • At an approved education provider in New Zealand and doing an approved course which is either:
    • An undergraduate course (level 7 or below on the National Qualifications Framework), or
    • A Bachelor degree with honours
    • Overseas through an approved education provider in New Zealand
      at secondary school.

If you’re not sure if your course meets the above criteria, you can check here.

Who isn’t eligible for the Student Allowance?

You can’t get a Student Allowance if you’re:

  • On a study break for longer than three weeks, or
  • On a benefit that you can stay on while you’re studying, or
  • In prison, or
  • Getting NZ Super or a Veteran’s Pension (or your partner is getting one of these), or
  • Over 65

How long can you receive the Student Allowance for?

If you’re in secondary school, you can get a Student Allowance for 92 weeks of secondary school study (around two years).

If you’re under 40, you can get a Student Allowance for 200 weeks of tertiary study (around five years).

If you’re over 40, you can get a Student Allowance for 120 weeks of tertiary study (around three years). This includes any weeks of Student Allowance you’ve had before.

What’s the difference between Living Costs and the Student Allowance?

The Student Allowance is different to a Living Costs student loan, as it doesn’t need to be repaid.

Students receiving Living Costs can choose how much they wish to receive each week, up to a maximum of $302.32.

There is a lot more variation when it comes to the amount you can receive on the Student Allowance. Note the tables below display the Student Allowance amount after tax.

Student Allowance for singles

Live with a parent in a place they own/pay for Don’t live with a parent in a place they own/pay for
Single, under 24 $257.53 $300.18
Single, 24+ $291.64 $342.82
Single with children $483.83 $483.83

Student Allowance for those with a partner, but no children

The table below is based on you and your partner’s income being less than $516.16 before tax (a week).

Partner not studying $600.33
Partner is studying but can’t receive Student Allowance* $342.82
Partner is studying but can’t receive Student Allowance for another reason $300.18
Partner is studying and receives Student Allowance $300.18 (each)

*Ineligible for the Student Allowance because:

    • They don’t meet the age criteria
    • They don’t meet the residency criteria
    • They’re not studying an approved course
    • They’re not doing approved overseas study.

You and your partner’s income is between $516.16 and $1,074.94 before tax a week

Living with partner $179.42
Not living with partner $224.66

If you have children and are living with your partner, the amount of Student Allowance you can receive varies significantly, depending on your specific situation. You can find out how much you’ll receive here.

Can I receive both the Student Allowance and Living Costs?

If your Student Allowance exceeds the maximum Living Costs threshold of $302.32 per week, you are ineligible to receive additional Living Costs support.

However, if your Student Allowance falls below $302.32, you may qualify for Living Costs alongside your Student Allowance. Nonetheless, the combined total of your Student Allowance and Living Costs support cannot exceed $302.32 per week.

For example:

  • Your Student Allowance is $100. You can get up to $202.32 for Living Costs
  • Your Student Allowance is $200. You can get up to $102.32 for Living Costs

→Related article: Student Banks Accounts: What’s on Offer?

How to apply for the Student Allowance

Whether you’re studying for the first time, or have received the Student Allowance before, you can apply online via Studylink’s website.

Applying for the first time

Before you apply for the first time, make sure you do the following:

  1. Set up a RealMe login or RealMe verified identity
  2. Ensure the course you’re interested in is a recognised course for Student Loan and Student Allowance
  3. You need your course details handy, eg: course start and end dates (you can estimate the dates and update them later)

It is important that once you complete the application it is submitted within 59 days, otherwise it will be deleted.

Once the application has been submitted, you will be mailed a letter which includes your client number and other forms that need to be completed. You will also be mailed your student loan contract, which will need to be signed and sent back to Studylink.

Applying as a returning student

If you received a Student Allowance within the last 12 months all you need to do is complete a ‘Returning Application’ in MyStudylink.

If it has been more than 12 months since you received a Student Allowance, you will need to reapply by completing the same process as a first time student.

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Caitlin Bingham. Caitlin is an experienced writer whose passion for creativity led her to study communication and journalism. She began her career freelancing as a content writer, before joining the Canstar team.

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