A Student Allowance is a weekly payment that can help with your living expenses while you’re studying.
You don’t have to pay the money back.
The Student Allowance is similar to the Student Loan living costs but you don’t have to pay it back. You do have to pay back the living costs, as it’s part of the Student Loan.
Who can get it
To get a Student Allowance, you must meet certain criteria.
In most cases you have to be between 18-65 and studying full-time. However in some circumstances you’ll be able to get it if you’re 16-17 or studying part-time.
You need to meet the residency requirements. For most people, this means you need to be either:
- a New Zealand citizen, or
- ordinarily resident in New Zealand and have:
- lived in New Zealand for at least 3 years and
- held a residence class visa for at least 3 years.
If you don't meet this criteria, there are other residency criteria you may meet.
Read the full residency requirements
You must be studying either:
- at an approved education provider in New Zealand and doing an approved course which is either:
- an undergraduate course (level 7 or below on the National Qualifications Framework), or
- a Bachelor degree with honours
- overseas through an approved education provider in New Zealand
- at secondary school.
Returning students criteria
If you're a returning student you need to meet the passing requirements
There's also a limit to how long you can get a Student Allowance for in your lifetime.
Who can’t get it
You can’t get a Student Allowance if you're either:
- on a study break for more than 3 weeks, or
- on a benefit that you can stay on while you're studying, or
- in prison, or
- getting NZ Super or a Veteran’s Pension (or your partner is getting one of these), or
- over 65.
What you can get
This will always depend on how much income you get.
It may also depend on your parents' income or your partner's income, this depends on your situation.
Under 24 with no children
Your parents' income will be considered if you:
- are under 24, and
- don't have children
It doesn't matter if you have a partner or not.
If you don't have any parents or don't have any kind of relationship with your parents, their income may not be considered.
You have a partner
For Student Allowance, a partner is someone you are in a recognised relationship with.
This means your partner's income will be considered if you and your partner are either:
- both over 24, or
- support a child.
If you get a Student Allowance, you may also be able to get an Accommodation Benefit. We'll work out if you can get this when you apply for your Student Allowance.
When to apply
Apply as early as you can to help get your correct payments on time.
You can apply even if you haven't finalised where or what you're studying.
If you apply after your course starts
You can apply up until the date your course finishes but we can only pay you from when you submit your application.
We must receive all the documents we need before your course finishes.
How to apply
You apply online.
If you're studying for more than 1 year, you need to reapply for a Student Allowance each year that you study.
If you’re applying for the first time, there are a number of steps you must take.
If you’ve had a Student Allowance more than 12 months ago, you'll need to follow a different process.
If you’ve had a Student Allowance in the last 12 months, you can apply in your MyStudyLink account.
What happens next
You'll need to send us any documents we ask for.
Once we've got everything we need from you, we'll confirm your enrolment details with your education provider closer to the start of your course. You need to be fully enrolled before we can do this.
Manage your application
You can check how your application's going, or look at your payment information, online in MyStudyLink.
Application approved before course starts
If your Student Allowance application is approved before your course starts, you’ll get your first weekly payment in the second week of your course.
You won’t get any money in the first week of your course because we pay you in arrears, which means you study for one week and get paid for that study in the next week. When you finish your course, you’ll get your last payment a week later.
Application approved after course starts
If you applied before your course started, you’ll get a back payment to when your course started. This will be paid to you in a lump sum. You’ll then get your first weekly payment a week later.
If you applied after your course started, you’ll get a back payment to when you submitted your application. This will be paid to you in a lump sum. You’ll then get your first weekly payment a week later.
You won’t get your first weekly payment until a week later because we pay you in arrears, which means you study for one week and get paid for that study in the next week. When you finish your course, you’ll get your last payment a week later.
Applied for Student Allowance and living costs
You can't get both the full amount of living costs and the Student Allowance at the same time.
If your loan is approved first, you’ll get the weekly living costs payments that you’ve asked for. Once your Student Allowance is approved, your living costs will reduce by the amount of Student Allowance you get.
You're getting weekly living costs payments of $281.96. Your Student Allowance is approved for $150 a week so your living costs will go down to $131.96 a week.
Back payment of Student Allowance
If we owe you any back payment of Student Allowance:
- this will be paid onto your loan first, to pay back any living costs you received
- we'll put some towards any debts you have with the Ministry of Social Development (eg StudyLink, Work and Income)
- we'll then pay the rest to you.
Getting Student Allowance and your circumstances change
If you're getting Student Allowance and your circumstances change, you need to let us know. If you don't let us know, you may get a debt.