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Student Allowance

The Student Allowance is a weekly payment you may be able to get while studying full-time to help you pay for accommodation, food, clothes and other day-to-day expenses. You don’t need to pay it back, though how much you get depends on things like your income, your living situation and parents’ income (if you’re under 24 years).

To receive a Student Allowance, you need to be either:

  • An Aotearoa New Zealand citizen
  • Living in Aotearoa New Zealand for at least three years with a residence class visa
  • A refugee or protected person
  • Sponsored by a family member that is a refugee or protected person

You’re unable to receive a Student Allowance if your parents’ joint income is over $98,653.52 if you live with them, or $106,371.71 if you don’t.

You’ll want to apply as early as possible to make sure you get your payments on time, which you do through the StudyLink website. Check out the ‘Student Allowance’ link below for more information on how to do this.

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Student Loan

Student loans are designed to help you with things like your course fees, living costs and study materials, such as your laptop. Unlike the Student Allowance, you will have to pay this back. You also don’t need to be studying full-time, though there is a minimum amount of study required.

The residency requirements for the Student Loan are the same as for the Student Allowance, though there are restrictions on what it can and can’t be used for.

Examples of things it can’t be used for include:

  • Services such as student association fees
  • Fees for late enrolment
  • A lump sum to pay all of your hall of residence costs

Once you’ve finished studying, you won’t need to start paying back your loan to the Inland Revenue (IR) until you’re earning over NZ$20,020 a year before tax. There are different rules if you spend time overseas, such as having to pay interest on your loan, so read up on what these are if you're planning on heading abroad.

The following IR video is a good overview of how to pay back your student loan while you're living in Aotearoa New Zealand. If you do decide to head overseas, then check out the other IR link below.

'Student loan tips from across the ditch'.

If you’re working and studying you can apply for an exemption on your student loan repayments. This will help give you the best chance to financially support yourself while you’re studying.

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Scholarships can be a big help if you’re looking to get into some kind of tertiary education. They can be awarded for a range of different reasons, including:

  • Your performance at school
  • The region you live in
  • The industry or trade you’re interested in.

There are a huge amount of scholarships that aren’t claimed every year, so even if you don’t think you would be able to receive one, it’s worth looking into what’s available. You might be surprised!

Have a look at the website of the tertiary institution you are planning to attend to see what scholarships they offer. The following sites also have information on scholarships:

For more information and links to help you understand tertiary scholarships, check out our article by clicking on the link below.

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Study or train Fees Free

Fees Free is for people starting tertiary education or training for the first time. If you’re an Aotearoa New Zealand citizen and you have been enrolled in a school in or after 2017, then you may be able to get Fees Free!

To find out more, visit the Fees Free website below and fill in your National Student Number (NSN). Make sure you check your eligibility before you apply for a Student Loan to avoid any unnecessary debt!

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Working while you study

Plenty of people decide to work to help support themselves while they study. It can also contribute towards your qualification, and help you develop your skills needed for the workforce.

The Student Job Search website linked below is a great resource to find work while you’re studying:

Depending on whether you start working as an employee or a contractor, you will have to update your employer with certain details to make sure you get taxed the right amount.

To work out how much tax you should be paying, Inland Revenue have a couple of useful webpages:

Finally, you are also able to apply for exemptions from paying back your Student Loan while you’re working and studying. Check out the Inland Revenue link below for more information.

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Key websites

  • Inland Revenue: The Inland Revenue, or IR, is the Government department in charge of collecting tax.
  • Sorted: Sorted is a personal finance site that has the tools and information you need to tackle debt, plan and budget, save and invest, dial up your KiwiSaver, plan for retirement, protect what's important, and take on a mortgage. They also have some good information to help you with topics such as Student Loans.
  • StudyLink: StudyLink provides lots of information about studying - how much it’s going to cost, how to pay for it and when to apply.