The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

1.1.F.60 Full-time secondary study (FTB)


This topic discusses full-time study for FTB purposes and covers the following:

  • definition
  • full-time secondary study
  • approved course
  • holiday periods - continuing secondary study
  • intention to resume study after break in study.


An individual can be undertaking full-time study as a student in a course in an Australian institution or be studying overseas full-time. Undertaking full-time study has the same meaning under the FAAct as defined under the SSAct.

Studying overseas full-time has the meaning as defined in the Family Assistance (Studying Overseas Full-time) Determination 2021.

Act reference: FAAct section 3(1)-'undertaking full-time study', section 3(1)-'studying overseas full-time', section 3C Meaning of studying overseas full-time

Full-time secondary study

The following table describes the circumstances where a secondary student is regarded as undertaking full-time study or studying overseas full-time.

If the student is studying an approved course of education or study … then they must be …
  • at a secondary school, or
  • at an equivalent level foreign educational institution
  • attending full-time
  • undertaking a concessional study load, or
  • undertaking the required amount of study at the foreign educational institution.
  • at an Australian institution other than a secondary school, or
  • by correspondence/distance education at an Australian institution
  • enrolled in and studying at least 75% of the normal full-time study load for their course, or
  • undertaking a concessional study load.
to determine whether a child is a senior secondary school child, the student is subject to a determination under FAAct section 22B(2A) undertaking the number of hours specified in the determination made under FAAct section 22B(2A).

Full-time study is a set amount of work that is accepted by the school as being full-time for any given period.

Approved course

An approved course of education or study at an Australian institution has the same meaning as under the SSAct and by extension to those courses determined by the Minister under the Student Assistance Act 1973 to be secondary courses of study.

The following provides more information in relation to certain types of study scenarios:

  • Secondary school studies at more than one institution
    • A secondary school student may study at more than one institution, providing the student's total study-load is full-time.
  • School students undertaking vocation and technical education studies
    • Secondary school students, who attend a vocation and technical education institution for one or more days a week as part of their secondary school requirements, including students participating in a school-based apprenticeship/traineeship, are considered to be undertaking full-time secondary school studies.
  • Part-time courses
    • Two part-time courses that do not lead to one qualification cannot be considered as full-time study. If a child is doing 2 part-time courses in approved study that lead to one qualification (that is, year 12 or equivalent), this would be considered to be full-time study and the individual would be eligible for FTB for the child.
      • Where 2 or more courses are linked together to form an overall qualification.
      • Two associated courses where one merges with or leads into the other course, such as a bridging course or a supplementary program studied concurrently.
      • Composite courses, also known as nested courses, where units from 2 or more different accredited courses that have the same course title recognised under the Australian Qualifications Framework are part of a coherent study sequence and lead to, or form part of, an overall qualification.

Full-time study in an approved foreign course of education, or study at a foreign educational institution that would assist or allow the child to complete a level of education that is broadly equivalent to an Australian secondary qualification, may qualify as approved overseas full-time study.

Act reference: FAAct section 3(1)-'approved course of education or study', section 3(1)-'studying overseas full-time', section 3C Meaning of studying overseas full-time

SSAct section 541B(5) Meaning of approved course of education or study

Student Assistance Act 1973 section 5D Minister may determine secondary and tertiary courses etc.

Student Assistance (Education Institutions and Courses) Determination 2019

Family Assistance (Studying Overseas Full-time) Determination 2021

Policy reference: FA Guide 1.1.S.27 Senior secondary school child (FTB), FTB child, Full-time study requirement

Holiday periods - continuing secondary study

If the child is intending to continue secondary studies, then it should be presumed they continue to be a senior secondary school child for FTB purposes. If they later decide not to continue their study, then they cease to be a student for FTB purposes from the date they decide they will not be continuing study.

If FTB is cancelled at the end of the calendar year on advice that the child will not be continuing full-time secondary study in the next calendar year but they do end up continuing secondary study on the first day of classes, then their eligibility for FTB during the holiday period should be restored on the basis that the actual circumstances have turned out differently from the anticipated circumstances. In this situation the child should not be treated differently from those children who intended to continue their studies.

Note: Separate rules apply to repeating students - see 1.1.S.27 for more detail.

Intention to resume secondary study after break in study

Where a child has not been in full-time secondary study for a period of time and the parent or carer of the child advises that the child intends to resume full-time secondary study, eligibility can only commence from the date the child actually recommences full-time secondary study. This policy applies whether the parent or carer is a new claimant or a person whose eligibility was previously cancelled.

Under FA(Admin)Act section 105 the Secretary may initiate a review of a previous decision if it is felt there are sufficient grounds to do so. The decision to not pay FTB can therefore be varied from the appropriate date and the individual can be paid their arrears entitlement.

Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 31 Variation of instalment entitlement determination to reflect changes in eligibility, section 105 Secretary may review certain decisions on own initiative

Last reviewed: