ASK ABE: Centrelink cut-off

Hi Abe,
Centrelink want to cut me off my payment because they say I should have finished my degree by now. Do you know anything about that? PD.

Hi PD.,
What you’re talking about is called the Maximum Allowable Time for Completion. It affects lots of students. The basic principle behind it is that you are allowed to get paid until you have exceeded the amount of semesters it would take for most people to ordinarily complete their degree plus one extra semester. Sometimes it’s plus one year, but that’s only when your subjects are a year long. So if you’re doing an Arts degree that’s 3 years plus 1 semester full time equivalent. Remember that this tells them when you should be cut off. It is not dependent on whether you have received a payment for all of that time or not. If you have been studying longer than the Allowable Time talk to an SRC caseworker as they can advise you if you can get that time extended. You may have been part time in an earlier semester but they have counted it as full time or you may have not passed a semester for reasons beyond you control.

We have found some Medical and Vet students who have been incorrectly assessed. This is because they need another degree to be able to start their graduate degree. Their previous degree should not count. So medicine and vet is 5 years long, so they should be allowed 11 semesters at least – you may be able to argue that the subjects are a year long and therefore you should have 12 semesters to complete the course. If Centrelink tell you otherwise, it might be worth appealing this decision. I helped a student with this last year and he received a back payment of more than $5000.

Abe

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