Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, said more than 150,000 students would start to receive new Federal Government scholarships from tomorrow to help families meet the cost of sending their children to university.
All students on Youth Allowance who do not already receive an existing commonwealth scholarship will receive $1,300 this year, paid in two instalments of $650.
The scholarship amount will then increase to $2,128 in 2011, payable for each year of study.
From tomorrow, the age of independence will also be reduced from 25 to 24 to provide thousands of students with automatic access to support, with further reductions to follow.
Speaking from the University of Notre Dame in Broome, Ms Gillard said many students would be receiving scholarships for the first time over the next couple of weeks as a result of the Government’s new program.
In the electorate of Kalgoorlie, 253 students are expected to receive the Government’s start-up scholarships while over 700 Kalgoorlie students are also set to benefit from the parental income tests from 1 July 2010.
The new parental income test arrangements will raise the threshold for working families, allowing parents with two students studying away from home to earn more than $140,000 before their allowance is cut.
Ms Gillard said the new test would provide a better distribution of funding by directing support to students who need it most.
Under the previous system, nearly one in five students living at home receiving youth allowance came from families earning above $150,000 and one in ten were from families earning above $200,000.
Ms Gillard said the new youth allowance arrangements would deliver more than 33 times the number of scholarships provided when the Coalition left office.
Key features of the program include:
- From 1 April, 2010, Youth Allowance students will receive a $2,128 start-up scholarship every year, indexed for inflation. ($1,300 in 2010).
- From 1 April, 2010, the age of independence will reduce to 24 and will continue to be reduced progressively to 22 years by 2012. This will see an estimated 7,600 new recipients of the independent rate of allowance.
- From 1 July, 2010, the parental income test thresholds will be increased so families with two children studying away from home can earn more than $140,000 before their allowance is cut completely.
- Students who live in “very remote”, “remote” and “outer regional” areas as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics who have to move away from home to study and whose parents earn less than $150,000 a year will be able to apply for independence under the old work tests.
- Students who choose to move to study may be eligible for an additional relocation scholarship of $4,000 in the first year of study and $1,000 each subsequent year.
- From 1 July 2012, students will be allowed to earn $400 a fortnight (up from $236) without having their payments reduced.