Income from scholarships

Income you get from scholarships can count in your income test. It might affect your payments.

What counts as a scholarship

Scholarships are given to people for achievements or to help them with the costs of study. They are usually in the form of money.

If you get a scholarship you need to let us know. It may affect your payment from us. When we mention payments from us, we usually mean a student payment. However, there are cases where your scholarship could affect other types of Centrelink payments.

Other names for scholarships are bursaries, stipends and grants. If you get one to help you study we usually call them equity or merit-based scholarships.

We include equity or merit-based scholarships in your income test. A portion of the scholarship is exempt from the income test. This means we don’t count $8,647 of your scholarship as income.

An equity or merit-based scholarship is a scholarship you get:

  • so you can study or do research
  • for achievement in study or research.

This includes most education scholarships such as:

  • Arts Council grants
  • Tertiary Access Payment.

How scholarships affect your payment

The amount of the scholarship you get may affect your payment rate. With an equity or merit-based scholarship, part of the amount is exempt. We don't count up to $8,647 per year in your income test.

For example, we treat the Tertiary Access Payment as an equity or merit based scholarship. If you’re also getting Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY you have to tell us any income you get. Because the Tertiary Access Payment is under $8,647, we don’t count it in your income test for that calendar year.

Any amount over $8,647 per year counts as income and may impact your payment rate. If you get more than one scholarship, the $8,647 applies to the total amount you get, not to each one.

The exempt amount is indexed each year.

ABSTUDY payments for master and doctorate students

Master and doctorate students can’t get ABSTUDY payments if they get a scholarship under the Australian Government Research Training Program.

Family payments

If you’re getting Family Tax Benefit or Child Care Subsidy, we include all taxable scholarships as income in your income estimate. If your scholarships are non-taxable, you don’t need to include them in your income estimate.

If your child gets a scholarship and they’re aged under 16, the scholarship doesn’t impact on any payments.

If your child is aged 16 or older, a taxable scholarship will count as income for them.

If you’re claiming Paid Parental Leave, most scholarships don’t count as paid work for the work test.

When scholarships don’t affect your payment

Some scholarships are exempt from your income test. These include:

  • scholarships that reduce or waive fees
  • Commonwealth Scholarships
  • Relocation Scholarship
  • Student Start-up Loan.

How to inform us about your scholarship

You can tell us about a scholarship using either your:

If you don’t tell us about your scholarship within 14 days, we may overpay you. If that happens, you’ll need to pay money back.

Read more about the types of income we count to calculate payment rates.

Page last updated: 8 February 2022