Limits of assistance

You can get ABSTUDY Living Allowance or ABSTUDY Pensioner Education Supplement for a certain amount of study. We call this limits of assistance.

What the limits are

There may be limits on the number of courses you can get your payment for. We call this limits of assistance. If you exceed your limit, your payment will stop.

Limits of assistance apply to:

  • Statement of Attainment
  • Certificate levels 1 and 2
  • Bachelor, and Masters or Doctorate level courses.

There are also time limits that may apply.

You can check the limits for each level of study in the following table.

Level of study Limits of assistance
Statement of Attainment, Certificate 1 or 2 4 years of study for any combination of these
Undergraduate Bachelor degree, including Honours, Masters qualifying years, combined degrees and prerequisite studies 1 completed degree, or equivalent amount of study at that level
Masters and Doctorate 1 completed degree of each, or equivalent amount of study at that level
Masters only 2 completed degrees, or equivalent amount of study at that level
Doctorate only 2 completed degrees, or equivalent amount of study at that level

For example, Emilie has completed a Bachelor of Education and got ABSTUDY Living Allowance while she studied. She’s about to start another undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Social Work. She can’t get ABSTUDY Living Allowance for this degree. This is because she’s already completed a Bachelor degree that she got ABSTUDY Living Allowance for.

There are also limits on how long you can get your payment for, which we call reasonable time. Read more about reasonable time.

How we check your limit

We check your limits of assistance at the start of your course. We do this to work out your limits. We also check if any of your previous study counts towards your limit.

We then check your limits at the start of each year you’re getting a payment.

If you’ve exceeded your limits, your payment will stop.

If you haven’t, your payment will continue until the end of the year. This includes if you reach your limits later within that year.

When previous study doesn’t count

When working out your limits of assistance, we don’t include either of the following:

  • study periods where we didn’t pay you Living Allowance or Pensioner Education Supplement
  • studies you’ve done more than 10 years ago.

When there are circumstances beyond your control

Sometimes, there are circumstances beyond your control and you’re not able to complete your study within your limits of assistance. If this is the case, we may be able to grant you an extension of up to 1 year.

You may get an extension for any of the following reasons. You:

  • have or have had a disability, illness or other medical condition
  • have suffered family trauma
  • have experienced a natural disaster
  • had to move and repeat part of a course, or start again, because of education institution rules
  • had to care for a family member
  • have something else that stops you completing your study within the reasonable time.

To get an extension, you may need to provide evidence. This can be a medical certificate or you can ask for a statement from your education institution.

Page last updated: 6 September 2019