Student loans and allowances

The Government contributes to the cost of further education in New Zealand for eligible students, but most tertiary education providers also charge fees depending on the type of course being offered. Students can borrow money for tuition fees, course costs and living costs, and they might qualify for a subsidy for living costs.

Tertiary student support update

December 2017

The Government has made a commitment to make the first year of tertiary education fees-free and to introduce a $50 a week boost to both student allowances and loan entitlements for living costs.

Fees-free tertiary education

From 1 January 2018 all New Zealand students who finished school after January 2017 qualify for a year of free provider-based tertiary education or 2 years of a long industry training programme such as an apprenticeship.

If a young person in your family has already applied for a loan to cover their first year of fees and they find out that they didn’t have to do this because they are eligible for fees-free, they should approach the provider and ask for a refund.

Eligible students are entitled to a refund of the amount you have paid to do a course starting on or after 1 January 2018, up to the value of the $12,000 fees-free cap.

A full list of who qualifies and what study is eligible for fees-free tertiary education and training is available through the fees-free website

Raising student allowances and loans

Student allowance changes

From 1 January 2018, student allowance base rates will rise by a net $50 a week per student.

For example, allowance payments for single students aged under 24 and living away from home will rise from $177.03 to $227.03 a week, while the rate for single students with children will go up from $329.57 to $379.57 a week, and the rate for couples with children (where one partner is not enrolled in more than half of a full-time course) will go from $379.34 to $479.34 a week.

This means that some students with higher parental or family incomes may qualify.

Student loan changes

The maximum amount students can borrow through a student loan to help pay for living costs will also rise by $50 a week – from $178.81 to $228.81 a week.

Students can choose how much they want to borrow if they don’t want to take out the maximum rate for living costs. The increase in student allowance will help keep debt levels down as will the first year of fees-free.

StudyLink is encouraging students to apply by 16 December and to provide their supporting documents promptly to ensure their applications are sorted for the start of the 2018 academic year.

Eligibility requirements for student allowance and loan living costs can be found on the StudyLink website

Student Allowance

The Student Allowance provides a subsidy towards the living costs of full-time students who meet certain income and age criteria. The scheme is aimed at students from low-income families who may not be able to afford to study otherwise.

Student Loan

As a student you can borrow money for the payment of tertiary fees, course related costs and to subsidise your living expenses. You need to repay money borrowed from the scheme to the government once you start earning over a certain income threshold.

Scholarships and Grants

You might be able to get a scholarship or grant to help with our tertiary studies. 

Community Services Card

Tertiary students are eligible for a Community Services Card to help with health care costs.

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