Australian Government assistance to students is focused on particular groups through the application of separate programs administered by a number of government departments. These individual programs are briefly described below.
Austudy and Youth Allowance
In 1998, Youth Allowance replaced AUSTUDY (now called Austudy) and a number of other payments for young people under 25 years. Youth Allowance is for full-time students under 25 years and unemployed people under 21 years. Austudy now covers full-time students 25 years and over. Youth Allowance and Austudy are administered by the Australian Government Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS), and delivered by Centrelink.
ABSTUDY represents a major component of the Australian Government's commitment, under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy, to encourage Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to take full advantage of educational opportunities, to promote equality of education, to be involved in decision making, and to improve their educational outcomes.
The scheme provides financial assistance for eligible Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who undertake approved secondary or tertiary education courses by full-time study, by correspondence, or who undertake part-time tertiary study. There is also some assistance available to primary school students aged 14 years or over who live at home.
ABSTUDY is administered by the Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST), and delivered by Centrelink.
Assistance for isolated children (AIC)
The AIC scheme helps the families of primary and secondary school students, and tertiary students under 16 years old, who do not have reasonable daily access to an appropriate government school primarily because of their geographic isolation. An 'appropriate school' is a government school which offers the student's level of study or, if the student has special health-related or educational needs, one which provides access to the facilities, programs and/or environment required for those needs.
Apart from the additional Boarding Allowance, all AIC allowances are free from income and assets tests, but applicants must meet the eligibility criteria. AIC is administered by FaCS, and delivered by Centrelink.
Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
The SFSS is a voluntary loan scheme introduced in 1993. It is available to students receiving Youth Allowance, Austudy, ABSTUDY and the Pensioner Education Supplement. Dependent full-time students who are not eligible for Youth Allowance may still access a SFSS loan if parental income is below a certain threshold, which was $61,200 for calendar year 2002.
Loan repayments do not commence until five years after the loan was taken out and only when income reaches a certain level. In 2002-03 the income level for loan repayment was $34,494.
The Government announced on 24 April 2003 that no loans will be issued under the Scheme from 1 January 2004.