Parental means test

Under the scheme, only Additional Boarding Allowance is income tested.

Parental income and boarding costs

In 2021, we look at your income for the 2019-20 financial year.

How your income for tax year 2019-20 affects your payment

Parental income Effect on payment
$55,626 or less No change.
More than $55,626 Reduced by 20 cents for every dollar over. This depends on the number of children in your family pool.

Boarding costs affect the amount of Additional Boarding Allowance you get. Boarding costs include boarding charges, plus $250 to cover items like laundry and toiletries. Boarding charges are the net boarding fees actually charged by the institution. It doesn't include fees for tuition or items relating to it.

In 2021, if the boarding charges for that year are $8,557 or less, you can only get Basic Boarding Allowance.

If the boarding charges for the year are more than $8,557 in 2021, you can get Additional Boarding Allowance. The amount you can get will be the lower amount of either:

  • the maximum annual rate less any reduction from the parental income test
  • the level of annual boarding costs for the student that’s more than the Basic Boarding Allowance amount.

Types of income tested

The test uses the combined taxable and other income for the tax year prior to the child's study year. We call this the base tax year.

If your child is studying in 2021, we use the combined parental income for the 2019-20 tax year.

Parental income includes:

  • combined parental taxable income
  • tax free pensions and benefits
  • fringe benefits
  • income from outside Australia
  • reportable superannuation contributions
  • total net investment losses such as negative gearing losses for that tax year.

We deduct child support or maintenance you pay for a former partner from the parental income.

Call the Assistance for Isolated Children line to give us your income details and claim Additional Boarding Allowance.

Family pool

The family pool refers to the dependent children in your family who may affect the amount of Additional Boarding Allowance you get.

Your family pool includes dependent children who:

  • get Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY Living Allowance or income tested School Fees Allowance Group 2
  • get Assistance for Isolated Children Additional Boarding Allowance
  • are aged between 16 to 19, attend secondary school
  • are aged under 16.

If there’s a shared care arrangement in place for a child in your family, we may take this into account.

You may be eligible for a higher rate of Additional Boarding Allowance. To get the allowance you must meet all of the following:

  • you don’t get the maximum rate of Additional Boarding Allowance
  • parental income is over $55,626 if the student is studying in 2021
  • there are 2 or more dependent children in the family pool.

You may get Additional Boarding Allowance when parental income is higher than the limit if either:

  • you’re eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A for the child you’re claiming Additional Boarding Allowance for
  • there are 2 or more dependent children in the family pool.

If you need to update your family details, call the Assistance for Isolated Children line.

Changes to parental income in the study year

If you get Additional Boarding Allowance, you must tell us if there are any changes to parental income. Sometimes, changes to parental income can mean your payment rate changes. Your payment may also change if your child's circumstances change.

Where there’s been a change to parental income, we can work out the parental income test on their income for the current tax year. For example, if your child is studying in 2021 and parental income significantly changes, we may use parental income for the 2020-21 tax year.

If your child is studying in 2021, you need to tell us if parental income either:

  • increases more than 25% from the 2019-20 tax year
  • decreases significantly, and you think it will reduce for 2 years or more.

You need to tell us about changes in your income so we pay you the right amount. You can do this using the Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) Current Tax Year Assessment form. You can submit it online, by post, fax or at a service centre.

If you can’t print the form, you can either:

Periods we exclude from the parental income test

The parental income test won’t apply if you or your partner get either:

We’ll apply the parental income test if both of the following apply:

  • you get an income support payment
  • your income support payment reduces to zero for 1 or more fortnights because of how much you or your partner earn.

The parental income test doesn’t apply if you have a Health Care Card and it's not one of the following:

We’ll calculate your Additional Boarding Allowance. If the parental income test doesn’t apply, it’ll be assessed based on your child's actual boarding costs.

Balancing your Assistance for Isolated Children Additional Boarding Allowance payments

From 1 January 2019 we’ll no longer use maintenance income to assess your payments.

We’ll continue to balance your payments based on your actual maintenance income for the following financial years:

  • 2016-17
  • 2017-18
  • 2018-19 up to 31 December 2018.

We’ll let you know if we paid you too much or not enough.

Page last updated: 9 February 2021