Income and assets tests for ABSTUDY

We check income and assets to see if you can get some ABSTUDY payments and how much you might get.

The temporary removal of the assets test ends soon. You need to tell us about your assets before 25 September 2020. Read more about assets tests.

What ABSTUDY payments we check income and assets for

Income and assets may affect any of the following ABSTUDY payments:

Income and assets don't affect any other ABSTUDY payments or allowances.

Which income and assets tests we’ll use to work out your payment rate depends on your situation.

When you’re dependent

If you’re dependent, we’ll work out how much ABSTUDY you can get using either the:

Read more about dependent or independent for ABSTUDY.

When you’re independent

If you’re independent, we’ll use 2 tests to work out how much ABSTUDY you can get. These are the:

If you have a partner, we’ll also use the partner income test.

We won’t use the personal income test if you’re an independent student under 16.

What the personal income test is

We may check your income to decide how much ABSTUDY Living Allowance you can get. We’ll use the personal income test if you’re 16 or older, or an independent Australian Apprentice.

Personal income is your gross income. This is the income you get before any deductions, like tax.

The amount you earn can affect how much we pay you.

Fortnightly income Effect on payment
$437 or less None
Between $437 and $524 Reduced by 50 cents for every dollar over $437
$524 or more Reduced by $43.50, plus 60 cents for every dollar over $524

You can use Income Bank to earn more without affecting your payment.

What the personal and partner assets tests are

The temporary removal of the assets test will end on 24 September 2020.

From 25 September 2020, you won’t be eligible for a payment if your assets are more than the assets limits.

Follow our guide to update your assets using your Centrelink online account. Do this before 25 September 2020, so we can pay you the right amount.

If you’re independent, your assets can affect your payment. There are different assets limits depending on your situation. When you claim ABSTUDY Living Allowance, you need to tell us the current market value of both your:

  • assets
  • partner’s assets, if you have a partner.

Read more about assets and the asset test limits.

If your assets stop you from getting a payment, you may still be able to get some help. If you’re in severe financial hardship, you may be able to apply under the Asset Hardship provisions.

How we test partner income

If you’re independent and you have a partner, we’ll assess their income too. We’ll assess their gross income. This is the income they get before any deduction, like tax.

If you’re 21 or younger

We reduce your payment by 60 cents for every $1 your partner earns over a certain amount. This amount depends on your partner’s situation, like their age.

If you’re 22 or older

Your partner can earn up to $996 a fortnight and not affect your ABSTUDY. We reduce your payment by 50 cents for every dollar over $996. If you have dependent children, your partner can earn more before it affects your payment. The amount depends on your child’s age and situation.

What the parental means test is

There are 2 parts to the parental means test, these are the:

Parental income test

Watch our video about parental income.

If you’re dependent, we need your parents’ or guardians’ income.

We also need their details if you’re getting ABSTUDY Living Allowance or School Fees Allowance higher rate, and you’re either:

We look at the income of the parents or guardians you live with, or last lived with. This includes step parents if you live with them.

We assess your parents’ or guardians’ income even if you don’t live with them now.

If your parents are separated we’ll assess the income of the parent you spend most time living with. If you spend equal time living with each parent, we’ll assess the income of the parent you ask us to. If you don’t live with either parent now, we’ll assess the income of the parent you last lived with. If you last lived with both parents, we’ll assess the income of the parent you ask us to.

If you need to live away from your parents’ home you may get a higher payment rate. For example, if you need to live at your school.

We won’t assess your parents’ or guardians’ income if you’re in state care. We also won’t assess their income if they get 1 of the following:

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

  • your parents or guardians get an income support payment
  • their income support payment reduces to zero for 1 fortnight or more because of how much they earn.

In 2020, we assess your parents’ or guardians’ taxable income from the 2018–19 tax year.

How parental income for tax year 2018-19 affects your payment

The following table shows how your parents’ or guardians’ income affects your payment. This does not include maintenance income, or the effect of other children in your family pool.

Parental income Effect on payment
$54,677 or less No change.
More than $54,677 Reduced by 20 cents for every dollar over.

Use our Payment and Service Finder to work out how much ABSTUDY you may get in your situation.

Parental income includes all of the following:

  • 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.

If your parent or guardian pays child support, we remove it from their parental income.

Your parents' or guardians' assets don’t affect your payment.

How the family pool works

The family pool is what we call the dependent children in your family, like your siblings. Children in your family pool may affect your payment rate.

When there’s another dependent child in your family pool, your payment could increase. If a dependent child leaves your family pool, your payment may decrease.

We can include dependent children in your family pool if any of the following apply:

If there are more children in your family pool, your parents’ or guardians’ income affects your payment less.

If you need to update your family details, call the ABSTUDY line.

Changes to income

Changes to your parents’ or guardians’ income can change your payment rate. Your payment may also change if your siblings' situations change.

When your parents’ or guardians’ income has changed

We check your parents’ or guardians’ income each year to see if their income will change your payment.

We may assess their income for the current tax year if their income has significantly changed. For example, if you study in 2020 we may use their 2019–20 tax year income.

Read more about the annual parental income test reassessment.

Maintenance income test

Your parents or guardians may get maintenance income to support you or your siblings. If they do, this income may affect your payment. This includes any child support or voluntary maintenance your parents or guardians get.

We check maintenance income if you’re getting ABSTUDY Living Allowance and you’re 16 or older.

If your parents or guardians get child support, we know their maintenance income. We’ll use what we already know to adjust your payment. If they don’t get child support, your parents need to tell us how much maintenance income they get.

Maintenance income can include regular or one-off payments for all of the following:

  • electricity, gas or water charges
  • school fees
  • other payments made for you or your siblings, or for your or your siblings’ benefit.

You may be exempt from this test if 1 of your parents or guardians is permanently blind, and gets 1 of the following:

What the maintenance income free area is

Your parents or guardians can get a certain amount of maintenance for you before it affects your payment rate. We call this the maintenance income free area.

The number of siblings you have and payments they get can affect this amount.

What the maintenance income free area per year is

Who your parents or guardians get maintenance for The maintenance income free area;
Just you. $1,686.30
You and other siblings who get Youth Allowance, or ABSTUDY Living Allowance if you’re 16 or older. $1,686.30 plus $562.10 for each sibling. Then divide the total by the number of siblings
You and other siblings who are eligible for Family Tax Benefit. $562.10

How to work out the maintenance income free area

Kyle is 1 of 3 dependent children who all get ABSTUDY Living Allowance. His parents get maintenance income for all 3 children.

The maintenance income free area for the first sibling is $1,686.30. We add $562.10 for each of the other 2 siblings. We divide the total $2,810.50, by the number of siblings, being 3. So, Kyle's maintenance income free area is $936.83.

Changes to your parents’ or guardians’ maintenance income

When you're 16 or older

Your parents’ or guardians’ maintenance income may change throughout the year.

At the end of the tax year, we’ll assess the maintenance income they got for you. We’ll let you know if we’ve paid you too much or not enough.

Read more about the annual parental income test reassessment.

When you’re under 16 and get School Fees Allowance higher rate payments

We no longer use maintenance income to assess your payments.

Page last updated: 3 September 2020