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Student Loan & Allowance

Student Loan & Student Allowance

After high school, a lot of young people choose to take tertiary courses to further their education. Often, this is the time where young people move out of their home and start looking after their own finances.  This is also often around the age where your parents are no longer your legal guardians.

As a result, the government provides some financial support to New Zealanders who intend to further their studies by providing students with a student loan and sometimes a student allowance, to give everyone a chance to take further studies should they choose to.

What is the difference between a student loan and a student allowance?

A Student Loan helps finance your tertiary study. It’s made up of three parts:

  • course fees – for the compulsory fees charged by your education provider;
  • course-related costs – to buy materials or services for your course, such as stationery and textbooks;
  • living costs – to help with your weekly expenses.

You choose which parts you need. You have to pay back your student loan, so it’s recommended you only borrow what you need.

A Student Allowance is a weekly payment to help with your living expenses while you study. It’s money that you don’t have to pay back if you qualify for it.

Can I get a student loan?

To get a student loan you usually have to be:

You’ll also need to:

  • sign a contract with the government (if you’re under 18, one of your parents/guardians will also need to sign the contract);
  • nominate a contact person in New Zealand.

If you get a student loan, you’ll need to pass at least half the papers of your previous study to get it again.

For more information on student loans, please contact  StudyLink (the government department that deals with student loans). You can also check out what you may be eligible for at the StudyLink website.

How do I apply for a student loan?

You can apply for a student loan online at Studylink. You’ll need a RealMe account and you should apply as soon as possible to ensure your student loan is processed by the beginning of your course.

What responsibilities do I have if I have a student loan?

Your student loan comes with responsibilities. You must understand your student loan contract and repay your loan. You must also inform StudyLink:

  • about any change in your circumstances including your address or if you intend to move overseas;
  • if you withdraw from a paper or course;
  • if you don’t pass your course.

When do I pay back my student loan?

You must start making repayments towards your loan, even if you’re still studying, if you earn more than $19,136 a year (or $368 a week) before tax. This is the repayment threshold.
Inland Revenue is responsible for collecting repayments from you.

You’ll need to repay 12% of every dollar earned over the repayment threshold.

Do I have to pay back my student loan if I go overseas?

Yes, if you stay in NZ, your student loan will be interest-free, however, if you go overseas for more than 6 months, interest will be charged on your student loan and your repayment will not be based on your income, but your student loan balance.

If you’re going on a holiday overseas, you can take a repayment holiday (which allows you to stop paying your student loan for up to 12 months). Interest will still be added to your loan during this time though.



What happens if I go overseas and don’t pay back my student loan?

If you have moved overseas and have not paid back your student loan for a large number of years, you could be arrested when you try to enter or leave NZ customs to travel overseas for knowingly avoiding to repay your student loan obligations.

When brought before the District Court, the court can make orders for you to pay the amount owing, make arrangements for payment, provide security for the payment, surrender travel documents and not be able to leave NZ without permission

Can I get a student allowance?

To get a student allowance you usually have to be:

  • 18 years old or over (16 or 17-year-olds are able to get it in limited circumstances);
  • under 65 when your course starts;
  • studying full-time or limited full-time;
  • enrolled at an undergraduate tertiary course or Bachelor degree with honours, or at secondary school, or be studying overseas through an approved education provider in New Zealand;
  • a New Zealand citizen, or meet residency requirements;

– Whether you can receive a student allowance is also dependent on your parents’ income and your relationship with them.
– If you’re doing postgraduate study there may be other support that you could be eligible for.
– If you get a student allowance for tertiary study, you’ll need to pass more than half of your full-time course to get it again.

How do I apply for a student allowance?

If you’re applying for the first time, please apply at StudyLink. You will need a RealMe login before you apply.

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