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Student Allowance

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.

Am I eligible for a Student Allowance?

Complete the 'What You Can Get' eligibility test to find out whether you may be eligible for a Student Allowance.

Go to the eligibility test

In general, you may be able to get the Student Allowance if you:

  • are at least 18 years old (some 16-17 year olds can also get it)
  • are under 65 on the start date of your course (for study starting on or after 1 January 2014. Note: you may still qualify if you meet certain criteria in the transition period)
  • are studying full-time (or Limited full-time with our approval)
  • are studying an approved course 
  • are a New Zealand citizen or meet the residence requirements.

How much you could get

We work out how much you can get based on your circumstances, 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.

If you qualify for the Student Allowance, you may also be able to get an Accommodation Benefit if you meet certain criteria. If you qualify for an Accommodation Benefit it will be paid automatically with your Student Allowance. 


Applying for a Student Allowance

Generally, you need to apply for a Student Allowance each time you enrol for a new period of study.

The quickest and easiest way to apply for a Student Allowance is online. To get paid on time, apply as early as you can.

During the busiest times of the year it can take at least 8 weeks to finalise an application, particularly where we require additional information such as parents' income.

You can apply even if you haven't decided where or what you'll be studying - you can change this later. It's more important that you allow enough time for the application process to be completed before the start of your study.


How and when payment is made

The Student Allowance can only be paid from:

  • the date the Student Allowance is approved from or
  • the date you start study,

whichever is later.

Payments start in the second week (you are paid one week in arrears).

Student Allowance payments are direct credited to your bank account on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

You can view your payments at any time using your MyStudyLink account.


Situations where you can't get a Student Allowance

You can't get the Student Allowance:

  • if you're studying a postgraduate course
  • if you're on a benefit
  • if you're in prison (not including home detention)
  • for any period where you're doing paid work as part of your course
  • if you have a Student Allowance debt that you are not actively paying back
  • if you're receiving, or your partner is receiving, New Zealand Superannuation or Veterans Pension.

Talk to us if any of these situations apply to you as there may be other types of financial assistance available to you while you study.


How long you can get a Student Allowance for

You can only get a Student Allowance for a certain amount of time - this is called your entitlement limit.

Usually you can get a Student Allowance for:

  • 92 weeks of secondary study
  • 200 weeks of tertiary study
  • 120 weeks of tertiary study if you are aged 40 or over (for study starting on or after 1 January 2014. Note: you may still qualify for the 200-week limit if you meet certain criteria in the transition period).

You may be able to get an extension to your entitlement limit for special circumstances if you need extra time to finish your studies.

Note: if you withdraw from, or reduce to part-time study, the number of weeks you received the Student Allowance for will still count towards your entitlement limit, unless you repay the amount of Student Allowance you received (providing you meet the repayment criteria).


Keeping your eligiblity to Student Allowance

You need to pass more than half of your course to get a Student Allowance again, unless you studied at secondary school. There is a certain calculation that is done to assess whether you've passed more than half.

Note: if you withdraw from, or reduce to part-time study, you will still need to pass more than half of this course, unless you repay the amount of Student Allowance you received (providing you meet the repayment criteria).

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.


Repaying your Student Allowance to keep future entitlement

If you withdraw from your course, or reduce to part-time study and choose to repay the Student Allowance you received, this means: 

  • we won’t look at whether you passed this course the next time you apply for a Student Allowance and
  • the amount of weeks you have repaid will be credited back to your entitlement limit.

To repay the Student Allowance 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.


Studying overseas

If you're studying overseas 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 or the Ministry of Education.

If you're studying overseas as a secondary student, you must:

  • be studying 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).

You can find a list of approved exchange programmes on the Ministry of Education website. 

The amount you can get overseas is the same as if you're studying in New Zealand.

When you apply for a Student Allowance, an Overseas Study application form will be sent to you. You must complete this form and send it to us. 

Download the Overseas Study application form:


Last updated: 17 January 2014