Reasonable time

You can get ABSTUDY Living Allowance or ABSTUDY Pensioner Education Supplement for a certain period of time. We call this reasonable time.

What reasonable time is

You need to complete your course within a set period of time to keep getting your payment. If you run out of reasonable time, your payment will stop.

Reasonable time applies to tertiary and secondary non-school courses. For example, secondary courses completed at TAFE.

We base reasonable time on the minimum time it normally takes to complete your course as a full time student. The amount of reasonable time depends on the normal length of your course.

We consider reasonable time for a course 2 years or less to be up to twice the course length.

For courses longer than 2 years we consider reasonable time to be the normal course duration plus 2 years.

For example, Rith is studying a 3-year Economics degree and getting ABSTUDY Living Allowance. The normal time for him to complete the course is 3 years. His reasonable time is up to 5 years. This is the normal course duration of 3 years plus 2 years. This means Rith can take up to 5 years to complete his degree and still get ABSTUDY Living Allowance.

There may also be limits on the number of courses you can get your payment for.

How we check reasonable time

We check your reasonable time at the start of your course. We do this to work out your amount of reasonable time. We also check if any of your previous study counts towards your reasonable time.

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

If you run out of reasonable time, your payment will stop.

If you haven’t, your payment will continue until the end of the year. This includes if you run out of reasonable time later within that year.

When previous study doesn’t count

In certain circumstances, your previous study doesn’t count. This may include study we didn’t pay you for or study you did in other courses or in the past.

When working out reasonable time, we don’t include any of the following:

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

When circumstances are beyond your control

We may grant an extension if you can’t complete your study within the reasonable time allowed because of circumstance beyond your control.

You may get an extension for up to one year 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: 27 September 2023.
QC 51424