The Student Loan can help to finance your study. It's made up of three parts - compulsory fees, course-related costs and living costs. You have to pay a Student Loan back.
On this page:
General Student Loan criteria
To get a Student Loan, you'll need to:
- be enrolled on a Tertiary Education Commission approved course. The course must be
- full-time (or limited full-time with our approval) or
- a part-time programme of at least 32 weeks or part-time, part-year and at least 0.25 EFTS (to get a Student Loan for fees only).
- sign a contract with the government,
- nominate a New Zealand based contact person (someone who resides in New Zealand) as a condition of accessing the Student Loan Scheme.
- 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
- 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 will not need to meet the two-year stand-down. 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.
Students who are currently receiving a Student Loan under the transitional provisions as they did not meet the two year requirement will continue to receive their Student Loan for period that it has been granted.
Note: You can borrow for up to 2 EFTS worth of study each year.
If you have $500 or more in default at the time of your application, and at least some portion of that amount has been overdue with Inland Revenue for a year or more, you won’t be able to get a Student Loan. You can only apply for a Student Loan once you have reduced the default amount to under $500 (repayments should be made to Inland Revenue). Living costs can only be paid from the date we receive your application or the date you start study, whichever is later.
How long you can get a Student Loan for
You need to apply for a Student Loan each time you enrol for a new period of study.
Remember: you will need to pay back each loan you take out. So only borrow what you need.
There is a life-time limit of 7 Equivalent Full-Time Students (EFTS) for Student Loans.
The life-time limit includes all study that you have had a Student Loan for, from 1 January 2010.
Full-time students generally have study loads of between 0.8 EFTS and 1.2 EFTS for a year. For a full-time student, 7 EFTS is equal to about 7 or 8 years of study. Part-time students use less EFTS each year.
Once you have used any part of the Student Loan, such as living costs, fees or course-related costs, the EFTS for that loan will count towards your 7 EFTS limit.
You can use more than 7 EFTS in some situations including:
- finishing a paper or course of study even if it takes you over the 7 EFTS limit
- up to an additional 1 EFTS to complete post-graduate study
- up to an additional 3 EFTS if you undertake doctoral study.
Generally, you will not be able to receive more than 10 EFTS of Student Loan entitlement including these extensions.
If you withdraw from your course:
- If you withdraw from your course, and receive a full refund of your tuition fees before the end of that course, it is not included in your life-time limit.
- If you withdraw from your course within 30 days of the date it started and receive a partial fee refund, it is not included in your life-time limit.
If you withdraw from part of your course:
If you withdraw from part of your course (eg papers or a semester), the EFTS value of the portion you withdrew from won't be included in your life-time limit.
Situations where you can't get all parts of the Student Loan
If you are studying part-time
If you are studying part-time, part-year (less than 32 weeks) and your course has an EFTS value of 0.25 or more, you can only get the compulsory fees part of the Student Loan. Unless you have been approved Limited Full-time status by StudyLink.
Annual borrowing limits for study that starts on or after 1 January 2013
Students are only be able to borrow for up to 2 EFTS worth of study each year.
Pilot training students are limited to borrowing up to $35,000 per 1 EFTS from the compulsory fees component of the Student Loan. The amount of fees that a student can borrow is relative to the EFTS they are enrolled in. This means if a student is enrolled in 0.5 EFTS they will only be able to borrow $17,500 for their compulsory fees.
Existing pilot training students who have been enrolled (but not necessarily accessed the Student Loan Scheme) on a pilot training course at any time between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2012 will continue to have access to their full compulsory fees while they complete their qualification.
If you're aged 55 years or over
If you're aged 55 years and over you are no longer eligible for living costs or course-related costs. You are only eligible for the compulsory fees component of the Student Loan.
If you're in prison
You can apply for a Student Loan for compulsory fees and course-related costs (and living costs if you're on home detention). Talk to your prison education officer or contact us.
If you get the Training Incentive Allowance
If you get the Training Incentive Allowance, the amount you can get for compulsory fees and course-related costs goes down by the amount of Training Incentive Allowance you get (not including any Training Incentive Allowance you get for childcare, transport or disability-related costs). Your Work and Income Case Manager can tell you more.
Situations where you may not be able to borrow the full amount for your compulsory fees
There may be courses where we can only loan a portion of the fees rather than the full amount charged by your education provider. Please check with your education provider if this is the case as you will need to pay the remaining fees yourself.
If you are currently bankrupt or on a course already paid for by the government
If you are currently bankrupt or on a course already paid for by the government (eg you're a Youth Guarantee recipient or enrolled in a trades academies or tertiary high school course that is funded as part of the Youth Guarantee programme, or you're on a STAR programme, Foundation Focused Training Opportunity or a Work Focused Training course) you won't be able to get a Student Loan.
From 1 January 2014, students who are under 18 on the start date of a course (which is on or after 1 January 2014) that is a fees-free Level 1 or Level 2 qualification will not qualify for any component of the Student Loan for that course.
If you're on a benefit
If you get Sole Parent Support, Supported Living Payment, or Emergency Maintenance Allowance from Work and Income, you can only get a Student Loan for compulsory fees and course-related costs. You can't get a loan for living costs.
If you get any kind of benefit, make sure you talk to your Case Manager first if you are thinking of study.
Reapplying for a Student Loan
You need to apply for a Student Loan 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 at least half of all the EFTS of all your previous study to get a Student Loan again.
If you study overseas
To get a Student Loan when you're studying overseas your study programme must be approved by the Tertiary Education Commission and you must be enrolled at a tertiary education provider in New Zealand.
The amount you can get overseas is the same as if you're studying in New Zealand.
If you plan to study overseas, you will need to complete an Overseas Study application and you need to complete a Student Loan application.
When you apply online you will get an Overseas Study application form if you need one.