Students from regional and remote areas, including New England, will be able to start university sooner because of changes that make it easier for them to be considered independent for student payments.
Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said the change would immediately impact around 3,700 regional students across Australia, with more students to benefit in the coming years.
“To qualify as independent for Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY Living Allowance, students from regional or remote areas must earn at least $24,836 before commencing further study. Previously, students had to wait 18 months after leaving school before qualifying for independent payments, putting them out of studies for one and a half to two academic years.
“The Coalition Government has reduced the time regional and remote students must spend earning this income, from 18 months to 14 months, allowing them to study with financial support one year after leaving high school,” Mr Joyce said.
Minister for Human Services, Michael Keenan, said the change provided a range of benefits for young people in regional and remote areas, and their communities.
“Under the new rules, students who take a gap year after Year 12 can then use that time to become independent for student payments and start university sooner.
“The Government recognises the importance of helping regional students transition to further studies and has committed to helping students get to university sooner. This change means regional and remote students can be considered independent for student payments sooner.
“In practical terms, these young people will gain life skills and work experience during their gap year which make them much more employable and self-sufficient when they move away from home to study.
“During their gap year, local businesses can take advantage of the opportunity to hire motivated young staff and – because it’s only one year and not up to two years break from study – students are far more likely to continue on to university.
“Down the track, our regions will benefit when these young people return, university degree in hand, to help build prosperous communities, Minister Keenan said.
For more information about student payments and independence rules, visit: humanservices.gov.au/students