2.1.1.11 Full-time Study Requirement

Summary

This topic discusses the requirements for a child aged 16 to 19 years to be a senior secondary school child and covers the following:

  • full-time study requirement,
  • determination of 'full-time study hours', and
  • exemptions from the full-time study requirement.

Full-time study requirement

An FTB child aged 16 to 19 years (up to the end of the calendar year in which they turn 19) is a senior secondary school child (1.1.S.27) if the child is either:

  • undertaking full-time study (1.1.F.60) in an approved course leading to a Year 12 or equivalent qualification, as defined under the Australian Qualifications Framework, or
  • studying overseas full-time in a course that would result in a level of education that is broadly equivalent to an Australian qualification, or
  • the child is exempt from the full-time study requirement for secondary school children.

Determination of 'full-time study hours'

Where considered appropriate, given the child's circumstances, a determination may be made that a certain number of hours of study per week for the child, averaged over the period that the child is enrolled in a course, constitutes that child's normal amount of full-time study. Such a determination will allow the child to be considered a senior secondary student, even though it may be a reduced study load when compared to the full-time load for that course. Such a determination does not amount to an exemption from full-time study.

The discretion to make such a determination is to be exercised in accordance with the following categories:

Adjusted Full-time Load Categories Situation
Near completion of course The child has almost completed their Year 12 or equivalent qualification and is undertaking their final units, which are equal to less hours than would be the full-time study load for that course.
Reduced capacity

There is a locally accessible approved course of education or study (including any such course available by distance education), but the capacity of the child to undertake the course is reduced to an adjusted load because the child has any of the following:

  • disability - physical, psychiatric or intellectual or learning disability such as attention deficit disorder,
  • medical circumstances - such as an accident, illness or injury,
  • personal circumstances - such as substance abuse, behavioural problem, extreme bullying,
  • family circumstances - such as death in the family, domestic violence, family eviction, caring responsibilities,
  • other circumstances considered appropriate (does not include the child mixing part-time study with part-time work).

Explanation: A favourable determination should not be made in circumstances where the reason the child is undertaking a study load that is less than a normal full-time study load for a course is because the child is combining part-time study with part-time work. The purpose of a determination under this section is to recognise that the child is undertaking a level of study according to their capacity to do so. Unlike an exemption, a determination under this section recognises that the child has some capacity to undertake study.

Example: Michael has enrolled in a bridging course at TAFE designed to enable him to complete his Year 12 certificate. Because Michael has attention deficit disorder, the TAFE has allowed Michael extra time to complete the course. Although studying less than a normal full-time load, the course coordinator has provided written confirmation that the level of study per week that Michael is undertaking is the maximum level of study of which he is capable. Michael's mother, Sarah, provides the information from the course coordinator, as well as medical evidence from Michael's doctor, to Centrelink. As Michael is able to undertake study, but at a reduced capacity due to his learning disability, Centrelink decides to approve an 'adjusted full-time study load' for Michael.

The forms of evidence in the above example are indicative only. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to confirm the child's capacity to participate in education at a reduced level from a range of sources. These could include, but not be limited to:

  • educational institutions,
  • state welfare and housing agencies,
  • real estate agents,
  • medical personnel,
  • social workers,
  • bereavement counsellors,
  • funeral directors, and
  • other authorities and/or individuals who are in a position to provide this confirmation.

Act reference: FAAct section 22B(2A) Determination of full-time study hours

Exemptions from the full-time study requirement

There will be certain circumstances when a child aged 16 to 19 years (up to the end of the calendar year in which they turn 19) can be exempted from the requirement to undertake full-time study. Exemptions can be granted under the following circumstances:

Situation Description of situation
No approved course or place There is no locally accessible approved course, or place available on an approved course, of education or study (including any such course available by distance education).
Individual not qualified There is a locally accessible approved course of education or study (including any such course available by distance education), but the child is not qualified to undertake the course.
Individual lacks capacity There is a locally accessible approved course of education or study (including any such course available by distance education), but the child lacks capacity to undertake the course because the child has a physical, psychiatric or intellectual disability or a learning disability such as attention deficit disorder.
Special circumstances Special circumstances exist that make it unreasonable to require the child to undertake an approved course of education or study for any of the following reasons:
  • medical circumstances - such as an accident, illness or injury,
  • personal circumstances - such as substance abuse, behavioural problem, extreme bullying,
  • family circumstances - such as death in the family, domestic violence, family eviction, caring responsibilities,
  • other circumstances considered appropriate.

An exemption from the requirement to undertake full-time study can be either permanent or temporary. A temporary exemption will not be granted for longer than 12 months, but may be renewed after 12 months if it is determined that the circumstances that warranted the original exemption remain. The following provides some examples of both temporary and permanent exemptions.

Example 1: Simone is 18 years old and has completed Year 10, but she left school part way through Year 11. She has been advised by her career guidance counsellor, to whom she was referred by her social worker, of a suitable course at a Registered Training Organisation that would enable her to complete her Year 12 equivalent qualification in 6 months of study. The course is not open for enrolments until the second half of the year, which is 6 months away. However, there is no other course available, either locally or by distance education, that would allow Simone to obtain her Year 12 equivalent qualification by the end of the year and provide her with the necessary credits to apply for university in her chosen field of study. Simone's career guidance counsellor provides written evidence that it is best for her future educational and career prospects that she wait to enrol in this course. Upon considering this evidence, Centrelink provides Simone with a 6 month exemption and her mother, Chrystal, remains eligible for FTB Part A for Simone for this period.

Example 2: Mary's daughter, Judy, has a severe intellectual disability that means Judy does not have the capacity to undertake any form of study. Judy is about to turn 16 years of age. Mary advises Centrelink of Judy's condition and provides appropriate medical evidence, and is granted a permanent exemption from the requirement to undertake full-time study. Provided the other eligibility criteria are met, Mary will remain eligible for FTB Part A for Judy, even though Judy is not in full-time study.

Example 3: Kara is undertaking Year 12 and is in the first trimester of pregnancy. Kara is experiencing morning sickness which has led to her missing significant amount of school and she is falling behind in her classes. Kara is advised by one of her teachers that unless her results improve she will fail their course. Kara decides to leave school until after her baby is born. Kara seeks an exemption so her mother, Galina, will continue to be eligible for FTB Part A. Centrelink seeks evidence regarding Kara's capacity from her GP and the appropriateness of the course from Kara's educational institution. Kara's GP advises that the severity of Kara's morning sickness would interfere with her ability to regularly and reliably attend school full-time, but not her ability to undertake study. Kara's education institution advises one of her subjects requires Kara to undertake practical components which are not appropriate given her pregnancy. A guidance counselor works with Kara to develop a plan to split her subjects over 2 years using a combination of school based and distance courses the school would make available to allow her to attain Year 12. Kara still chooses to leave school before finishing the 2-year program. On the basis of the evidence provided Centrelink does not grant her an exemption and Galina ceases to be eligible for FTB Part A for her.

The forms of evidence in the above examples are indicative only. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to confirm the child's need for an exemption from a range of sources. These could include, but not be limited to:

  • educational institutions,
  • state welfare and housing agencies,
  • real estate agents,
  • medical personnel,
  • social workers,
  • bereavement counsellors,
  • funeral directors, and
  • other authorities and/or individuals who are in a position to provide this confirmation.

Act reference: FAAct section 22B(2) Exemption from full-time study requirement

Last reviewed: 20 September 2017