A Student Allowance is a weekly payment to help with your living expenses while you study full-time. You don't have to pay this back.
On this page:
General Student Allowance criteria
Use the What You Can Get eligibility test to find out whether you are eligible for the Student Allowance.
In general, to get the Student Allowance you need to:
- be 18 or over (some 16-17 year olds can also get it)
- study full-time (or limited full-time with our approval)
- be studying an approved course (your education provider can tell you if your course is approved), this may be
- secondary school study
- an undergraduate tertiary course or any Bachelor degree with Honours that is approved by the Tertiary Education Commission
- be a New Zealand citizen; if you're not a New Zealand citizen, you’ll need to:
- be entitled under the Immigration Act 2009 to reside indefinitely in New Zealand and have done so for at least 2 years (i.e. have held a residence class visa for at least 2 years) and
- be ordinarily resident in New Zealand or
- be a refugee or protected person and be entitled under the Immigration Act 2009 to reside indefinitely in New Zealand (i.e. hold a residence class visa).
Note: Some people do not need to meet the two-year requirement. This includes:
- anyone who was sponsored into New Zealand by a family member who holds refugee status
- people with protected person status (under the Immigration Act 2009)
- anyone who was sponsored into New Zealand by a family member with protected person status (from 1 January 2012).
From 1 January 2014, students who are not New Zealand citizens, refugees or protected persons (or have not been sponsored into New Zealand by a family member who was recognised as a refugee or a protected person) will need to have been entitled to reside indefinitely in New Zealand, and been living in New Zealand, for three years before they will qualify for a Student Allowance or Loan.
Australian citizens are subject to these residency requirements.
This change applies to new Student Allowance and Loan applications for study that starts on or after 1 January 2014, however there are transitional provisions for some students.
Changes to Student Allowance for students age 65 years and over
From 1 January 2014, The Student Allowance will not be available to students aged 65 and over on the date they start study.
This change applies to all new Student Allowance applications for study that starts on or after 1 January 2014. An application period is an approved Student Allowance application for an enrolment period of up to 52 weeks. There are transitional provisions for students who are already in study.
How much you could get
Student Allowance payments are determined by many factors, including:
- your income
- your parents' income if you are aged under 24
- whether you live in the parental home
- whether you have a partner, and how much they earn
- whether you have children.
The examples in this section give a guide.
The Accommodation Benefit
As part of the Student Allowance, you may be able to get an Accommodation Benefit if you live away from the parental home while you study, or you live in a home provided or maintained by a parent (where the parent is not living) and pay market rent and/or the outgoings. If you have a partner your combined income must be less than $416.00 (from 1 April 2013) a week before tax.
If you are living with your parents in the parental home you cannot receive the Accommodation Benefit, (regardless of whether you are paying market rent/outgoings) unless you or your partner have a supported child.
You can only get the Accommodation Benefit if you qualify for Student Allowance.
How much you can earn
Your income in any one week can be up to $208.00 before tax (from 1 April 2013) before your Student Allowance payments are affected.
For every cent you earn over $208.00 in any week, the amount you get for Student Allowance before tax will reduce by the same amount. For example, if you earn $210 a week before tax, your Student Allowance will reduce by $2.00.
If your income changes you must let us know immediately so we can change your payments.
If you are working, Inland Revenue will now share your employment information with us. If you think the information we have about you might be wrong, put it right now. It remains your responsibility to tell us about any changes to your income.
You need to let us know of any income you get the week this has been earned. If you don't let us know, you could be overpaid and you'll need to pay the money back. We could take legal action to recover this money.
The fastest and easiest way to let us know your income details is using MyStudyLink.
When to apply
To get paid on time, apply as early as you can. If you have not finalised your course, or your parents are unsure of their annual income (especially if self-employed) you can apply now and give us these details when you have them.
Note: you need to provide these details before the end date of your course that you applied for the Student Allowance for.
Apply at least 21 days before your course starts or you may not get paid on time. You can apply for the Student Allowance before you enrol for study but you will need to be fully enrolled before we can pay you. It's better to apply early - if your course details change, you can let us know.
To speed things up make sure you give us all the details we need.
If we receive your application after the end of the first week of your course (or the date you qualify if that's later), you may miss out on some payments. Usually payments cannot be backdated.
When you will find out how much you’ll be paid
Once your Student Allowance is pre-approved, you will get a letter advising you of this.
When your study details have been verified by your education provider, we will write to you and confirm the amount of Student Allowance you will receive.
You can also check your MyStudyLink account for progress on your application.
When you will get your first payment
The earliest we can pay you is in the second week of your course. You are paid in arrears, so your payment for one week isn't made until the following week. All payments are made direct to your bank account.
If you apply late, if your enrolment isn't completed or you don't give us the information we need, the start of your payments may be delayed.
How long you can get a Student Allowance for
Usually you can only get the Student Allowance for 200 weeks for tertiary study and 92 weeks for secondary school study.
You may be able to get an extension for special circumstances if you need extra time to finish your studies.
From 1 January 2014, The Student Allowance 200-week limit will reduce to 120 weeks (approximately three years of study) for students aged 40 years or over on the date they start study.
This change applies to all new Student Allowance applications for study that starts on or after 1 January 2014. An application period is an approved Student Allowance application for an enrolment period of up to 52 weeks.
This means that students who
- have an application for cross-year study that started in 2013 and carries over in to 2014 will be assessed under the 200-week limit for the duration of that application period
- need to make a new application for their 2014 study will be assessed under the new limit.
Students who studied and received a Student Allowance in 2013 and apply for an allowance for study starting on or after 1 January 2014 can continue to receive Student Allowance for up to one year (until 31 December 2014) or until they reach their previous 200-week limit (whichever comes first).
Students who studied in 2013 and were approved an extension to their 200-week limit will continue to be eligible for the application period that was approved.
Situations where you can't get a Student Allowance
You can't get the Student Allowance if you're:
- in prison
- on a benefit
- doing paid work as part of your course
- have a Student Allowance debt that you are not actively paying back.
- receiving or your partner is receiving either New Zealand Superannuation or Veterans Pension
- studying a postgraduate course
However, make sure you talk to us if any of these situations apply to you. There may be other types of financial assistance to help while you study.
Reapplying for a Student Allowance
You need to apply for the Student Allowance each time you enrol for a new period of study. Apply early, well before your course starts, even if you're still deciding what you're going to study.
You need to pass more than half of the work of a full-time tertiary course to get a Student Allowance again.
Withdrawing or reducing to part-time study
If you withdraw from your course, or reduce your work-load on a tertiary course that you get a Student Allowance for;
- you will need to have passed more than half of the work of a full-time course to get another Student Allowance and;
- the number of weeks you received the Student Allowance for will count towards your 200 week entitlement.
If you have withdrawn from, or reduced to part-time on a secondary school course that you receive a Student Allowance for, the number of weeks you received the allowance for will count towards your 92 week limit but there is no performance measure for secondary school study.
Note if you didn’t pass more than half of your course due to reasons beyond your control, you may still be able to get another Student Allowance. You may also be eligible for an extension of your life-time entitlement if you need extra time to complete your study.
Remember you must let us know as soon as you change your study plans.
Repaying your Student Allowance to keep future entitlement
If you withdraw from your course, or reduce your work-load you may choose to repay the Student Allowance you received for that course.
Repaying the allowance you received means we won’t look at whether you passed this course the next time you apply for a Student Allowance.
It also means that the amount of weeks you have repaid will be credited back to your 200 week or 92 week entitlement.
To repay the Student Allowance received you need to:
- pay back all the after-tax amount of Student Allowance you received in respect of the course and;
- ensure that repayment is made within 12 months of the start of the course (where the course was one full academic year), or before the end of the course in every other case and;
- officially withdraw from the course or part of the course.
You need to let us know as soon as you change your study plans. When we stop your Student Allowance we will send you a letter explaining what you need to do if you wish to repay the allowance.
Note this provision does not apply where records show that you did not sit the final examination(s), or where you sat the examinations but failed.
To get the Student Allowance for study overseas your study programme must be approved by the Tertiary Education Commission, or the Ministry of Education. You will need to complete an Overseas Study application in addition to an application for Student Allowance.
As a tertiary student, you need to be:
- enrolled with a tertiary education provider in New Zealand
- studying a programme that's approved by the Tertiary Education Commission.
As a secondary student, you must:
- be studying through a recognised exchange organisation, and
- have attended a New Zealand secondary school prior to commencing the exchange programme. (Or within a reasonable timeframe, as determined by StudyLink, if a delay in commencement is due to a different secondary school year in the host country.)
The overseas study providers that have approved recognised exchange programmes are:
- American Field Scholar (AFS)
- Student Travel School (STS)
- American Swedish Student Exchange (ASSE)
- Youth for Understanding.
The amount you can get overseas is the same as if you're studying in New Zealand.
When you apply online for study support, you will get an Overseas Study application form to complete if you qualify.
Download the Overseas Study application form: