Current Payment Rates

Independent Away From Home rate: $437.50 per fortnight

Independent At Home (‘Accommodated’) rate: $288.10 per fortnight

Being ‘independent’ means Centrelink only considers your assets and income, plus Rent Assistance, not your parents’ income.

  • Your assets threshold is $250,000 if you are a homeowner or $450,000 if you are a not.
  • There are a number of ways you can qualify as ‘independent’.

Centrelink Start Up Scholarships and Loans – Warning

The student ‘Start Up Loan’ of $1,035 per semester replaced the ‘Start Up Scholarship’ of $1,035 per semester for students who began receiving Youth Allowance, Austudy or Abstudy on or after January 1st, 2016.

From the 1st July 2017 the Student Start Up Scholarship will no longer be offered. The Student Start Up Loan will replace the Student Start Up Scholarship.

Consider carefully whether you take out this repayable HECS style loan, and seek advice if you have any questions.

Centrelink Relocation Scholarship

Certain students relocating from or to a regional area for study purposes can receive $4,376 in the first year and lesser amounts in later years. Seek advice.

INDEPENDENT: By Age

You are automatically considered “independent” for Youth Allowance purposes from the day you turn 22. Apply a few weeks beforehand.

INDEPENDENT: Special Circumstances

  • you are a refugee
  • you are an orphan
  • you are, or have been, in state care
  • you have, or have had, a dependent child
  • your parent(s) cannot exercise their responsibilities.

INDEPENDENT: Hours of Employment

If you have worked an average of 30 hours a week over 18 months in the last 2 years, you can demonstrate independence for YA and ABSTUDY.
You must have evidence of the number of hours worked, eg. pay slips or letter(s) from your employer(s).

INDEPENDENT: Relationship

If you and your partner are a ‘Youth Allowance Couple’ you are considered ‘independent’. You can also qualify as ‘independent’
if you have been in such a relationship in the past.

You are part of a ‘Youth Allowance Couple’ if you are:

  • legally married and living together; or
  • in a same-sex relationship registered at a state or territory level; or
  • in a same-sex or opposite-sex de-facto relationship, including living together, for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

Centrelink will consider various things in deciding whether you are a YA couple:

  • shared finances and property
  • the nature of the household
  • social and public aspects of your relationship
  • any sexual relationship
  • the nature of your commitment to each other
  • any children

Your partner’s income and assets can affect your Centrelink payment. See the SRC’s Relationships: Couples and income & Assets test leaflet.

INCOME CRITERIA For Remote & Regional Students

You may apply for ‘independence’ on the basis of employment in 2 ways:

1. Remote & Regional Students: Income. If:

  • you’re a very remote, remote, outer regional or inner regional area student (to see what areas these are go to the map at
    www.doctorconnect.gov.au); and
  • your parent(s) earnt less that $150 000 in the last tax year, and
  • you have to leave the family home to study at University because it is more than 90 minutes away by public transport; and
  • left school at least 18 months ago; and
  • earnt a specified amount of gross income (before tax) from paid employment, within an 18 month period or less. (It can be any 18 month period & you do not need to have earnings in every month.)

You will need to have proof of earnings, such as Tax Payment Summaries or Group Certificates and/or pay slips, showing gross amounts.

The gross amount is indexed approximately annually and must be at least:

Amount         if the18 month period starts on/after

$23, 479         1 July 2015
$24,042         1 July 201

If you have not been out of school for 18 months or earned enough money yet, keep this information in mind and try to plan your employment around it. Bear in mind that the amount you need to earn may go up.

2. Remote & Regional Students: Work hours. If:

  • you’re a very remote, remote, outer regional or inner regional
    area student (to see what areas these are go to the map at
    www.doctorconnect.gov.au); and
  • your parent(s) earnt less that $150 000 in the last tax year, and
  • you have to leave the family home to study at University because it is more than 90 minutes away by public transport; and
  • 15 hours per week for at least 2 years since leaving school. Probably the easiest way to demonstrate this is through pay slips or a letter from your payroll officer.

INDEPENDENT: ‘Unreasonable to Live at Home’ (UTLAH)

If you have already moved out of your parent(s) home and can demonstrate it is ‘unreasonable’ for you to live with your parent(s), Centrelink will consider you ‘independent’.

Three forms need to be completed for UTLAH. One by you, one by a parent (not always possible) and one by a third party.

Centrelink will probably ask to contact your parent(s), but you can instruct them not to if you believe contact could put you in danger. Your application is confidential, only when you give explicit permission can they contact your parent(s).

The third party should be someone who is aware of your family life and could include a counselor, doctor, police office, teacher, religious leader, grandparent, adult relative or – as a last resort – friend.

What is “Unreasonable”?

A person is independent if:

(a) the person cannot live at the home of either or both of his or her parents:
(i)     because of extreme family breakdown or other similar exceptional circumstances; or
(ii)    because it would be unreasonable to expect the person to do so as there would be a serious risk to his or her physical or mental well-being due to violence, sexual abuse or other similar unreasonable circumstances; or
(iii)   because the parent or parents are unable to provide the person with a suitable home owing to a lack of stable accommodation;  and:
(b) the person is not receiving continuous support, whether directly or indirectly and whether financial or otherwise, from a parent of the person or from another person who is acting as the person’s guardian on a long-term basis.

 What is extreme family breakdown?

Extreme family breakdown does not refer to the “normal” differences that young people have with their parent(s). For the purposes of Centrelink there may be a number of indicators of extreme family breakdown including:

  • other family members are experiencing documented behavioural or health problems (eg. letter from doctor, or police) that can be attributed to the breakdown of the family relationship
  • specialised intervention has been unsuccessful for substance abuse or anti-social behaviour
  • there is evidence of a threat to your (or another family member’s) emotional or physical well-being if you were to continue living at home
  • you have tried, unsuccessfully, to resolve the issues through a counsellor or mediator.

Other circumstances that may qualify for extreme family breakdown are deliberately not listed in the legislation, leaving it open to interpretation by Centrelink. For example, your circumstances may be considered evidence of extreme family breakdown if your parent(s):

  • engage in criminal activity or substance abuse;
  • do not provide you with adequate food, clothing, shelter, hygiene and/or medical attention;
  • disallow you to study.

Extreme family breakdown is deemed not to have occurred if your parent(s) disapprove of your relationships or lifestyle choices (eg. religion, sexuality), unless this is a threat to your physical or emotional wellbeing.


Information updated on 19th April, 2017. (CL-IND 19.4.17)

Important Notice and Disclaimer:
This information does not constitute legal advice. Check with a caseworker for the most up-to-date information. Do not accept verbal advice by itself from any source including Centrelink. Get a decision in writing. Without this subsequent appeals or backdating are at risk.