Release type: Media Release

Date:

Government strengthens support to regional students

Ministers:

Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations

Rural and regional students across the nation can now apply for additional assistance to attend university under the $20 million Rural Tertiary Hardship Fund, Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans said today.

Calling for applications for the Fund, Minister Evans said the Government initiative offered additional support to the nation’s most disadvantaged rural and regional students.

“The Rural Tertiary Hardship Fund was proposed by the Australian Greens and was one element of the Parliamentary agreement to support the Gillard Government’s historic reforms to student income support,” Senator Evans said.

“As a result of our reforms more than 85,000 young people have benefitted and are now receiving a higher rate of Youth Allowance, or accessing payments for the first time.

“These $3000 one-off grants from the Rural Tertiary Hardship Fund will provide additional financial assistance to students from low socio-economic backgrounds, particularly rural and regional students.”

The applications for the Rural Tertiary Hardship Fund grants are now open, and university students will have until 22 March this year to apply.

Senator Evans said as a result of the Government’s student income support reforms, there has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of dependent Youth Allowance recipients from rural and regional areas.

The $20 million Fund will allow even more regional and rural students to access much needed financial support.

“Regional and rural students commencing a bachelor degree in 2011 who would experience severe financial hardship in undertaking their degree will now be able to apply for a $3000 one-off grant,” Senator Evans said.

Approximately 1600 grants will be available during the first Semester in 2011. New students may be considered eligible if, subject to other eligibility criteria, they:

  • are under the age of 25;
  • would normally live in a place other than a major city.

Grants will be awarded to those applicants who are assessed as the most disadvantaged based on the criteria of financial hardship, socio-economic disadvantage and personal circumstances.

The Fund is additional to benefits already available to rural and regional students under the Government’s student income support reform package, which has provided an additional 29,000 young people from rural and regional areas with much needed financial assistance.

Senator Evans said that the Fund will contribute to the Government’s goal of increasing rural and regional students’ higher education participation rates.

The Rural Tertiary Hardship Fund Application Form and Program Guidelines are available at www.deewr.gov.au/rthf.

Students with enquiries can email or call the Student Enquiry Line on 1800 020 108.