3.2.7.30 YA Full-time Students

Basic requirements

To satisfy the activity test as a full-time student a young person must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • be enrolled in an approved course (1.1.A.210), AND
  • be undertaking at least three-quarters of a normal amount of full-time study for the course, AND
  • make satisfactory progress (1.1.S.30) in the course.

Each of these is explained in other topics in this section.

Continuing students

Continuing students who are moving from one course to another, or who are on vacation from the course they are undertaking, can be regarded as full-time students if they were enrolled in a course and intend to enrol in the same, or another course when enrolments are next accepted (1.1.I.180). This also applies to students who were studying on a part-time basis in the previous study period and who intend to re-enrol on a full-time basis from the start of the next study period.

Generally, full-time students who discontinued halfway through their studies but intend to commence a new course in the next study period are not considered to be a continuing student and only qualify for payment of YA as a full-time student from the commencement of the new course.Where a student has discontinued their studies or reduced their study load due to temporary incapacity, special circumstances, or a reasonable excuse, the person may continue to receive YA in certain circumstances. Please see 3.2.7.40.

Activity test exemptions

Where a student has discontinued their studies or reduced their study load due to temporary incapacity, special circumstances, or a reasonable excuse, the person may continue to receive YA in certain circumstances. Please see 1.1.T.70, and 3.2.7.40.

Honours courses

For information on Honours courses, see 3.2.7.100.

Students who have discontinued studies or reduced their study load

Generally, full-time students who discontinue halfway through their studies but intend to commence a new course in the next study period are not considered to be a continuing student and only qualify for payment of YA as a full-time student from the commencement of the new course.

However, if a person discontinues studies or reduces their study load to less than full-time, because they are temporarily incapacitated, there are special circumstances beyond their control, or they have a reasonable excuse, the person may continue to receive YA in certain circumstances.

Temporary incapacity

For further information on temporary incapacity, please see 1.1.T.70, and 3.2.11.10.

Special circumstances

Examples of special circumstances beyond the person's control include:

  • where a major disruptive event (such as a fire, flood, earthquake, vandalism, or burglary) affects the person's home, and the event has a major disruptive consequence for the person,
    • Examples of major disruptive circumstances for a person include needing to arrange alternative accommodation, having to replace significant household items, organising major home repairs, or making insurance claims.
  • where a person is experiencing a major personal crisis (such as the death of a family member, the breakdown of a relationship, domestic violence, or a person has become homeless and is unable to find accommodation), and the experience has a major disruptive consequence for the person,
    • Examples of major disruptive consequences for a person include arranging funerals, arranging care for his or her child, attending counselling, or arranging alternative accommodation.
  • when a person has full-time carer's duties due to a family member becoming temporarily incapacitated due to illness or accident, and the person does not qualify for a carer payment,
  • where a person is serving on a jury,
  • if the person is a refugee, or
  • when a person is subject to a community service order requiring them to complete more than 20 hours per week.

Generally, the maximum exemption period for special circumstances is 13 weeks, however:

  • a 2-week exemption period applies where a major disruptive event occurs, or a major personal crisis occurs (not including where a person is homeless), and
  • a 4-week exemption period applies where the major personal crisis (not including where a person is homeless) is extremely traumatic.

For the person to remain qualified for YA as a student, the person must:

  • intend to return to full-time study once their special circumstances have been resolved, or once the exemption period from the activity test expires (whichever occurs first), and
  • remain enrolled in their course of study, or registered for the relevant award, regardless of whether they are undertaking any of the course subjects or units during their special circumstances exemption period.

Reasonable excuse

Matters that are to be considered in deciding whether a person has a reasonable excuse include:

  • not having access to safe, secure and adequate housing, or being in emergency accommodation or a refuge at the time, and
  • the person's language and literacy ability, and
  • an illness, impairment or condition requiring treatment (whether episodic or unpredictable), and
  • a person's cognitive, neurological, psychiatric, psychological impairment or mental illness, and
  • a person's drug or alcohol dependency, and
  • unforeseen family or caring responsibilities (including being adversely affected by the death of an immediate or close relative), and
  • a person's subjection to criminal violence (including domestic violence and sexual assault), and
  • certain instances of imprisonment or release from imprisonment.

For the person to remain qualified for YA as a student, the person must:

  • intend to return to full-time study once their reasonable excuse circumstances have been resolved, and
  • remain enrolled in their course of study, or registered for the relevant award, regardless of whether they are undertaking any of the course subjects or units during the period.

Example: John has been found not undertaking full-time study-load. Contact is made with John and he advises that he intends to re-enrol and undertake full-time study in the next semester. John has chosen to withdraw from 2 subjects and there are no special circumstances that led to this decision. John is not considered a continuing student and any payments beyond the withdrawal date will be raised as an overpayment. At the end of the semester, John re-enrols on a full-time basis for the next semester. John may be considered as a full-time student for the vacation period before his full-time study period commences if his full-time enrolment for the next semester has been accepted.

Act reference: SSAct section 541B Undertaking full-time study, section 542 Situations in which a person is not required to satisfy the activity test, section 542A(1) Temporary incapacity exemption, section 542H Special circumstances exception, section 550 YA participation failures

Social Security (Reasonable Excuse - Participation Payment Obligations) (DEEWR) Determination 2009 (No. 1)

Youth Allowance (Activity Test Exemption Guidelines) Determination 1998

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.T.70 Temporary incapacity for work (NSA, YA (job seeker), or full time study (YA (student)), 3.2.4 YA exemption from full-time education/training for under 18s, 3.2.7.40 Approved Courses of Study for YA, 3.2.7.50 YA Study-load - Part-time Students, 3.2.7.60 YA Study-load - Full-time Secondary Students, 3.2.7.70 YA Study-load - Full-time Tertiary Students, 3.2.7.100 YA Full-time Students Satisfactory Progress, 3.2.7.110 YA Full-time Students Satisfactory Progress - Study at the Same Level, 3.2.11.10 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA job seekers/YA students - Exemptions - Temporary Incapacity

Last reviewed: 20 September 2017