3.8.16.20 Payability of Student Start-up Scholarship

Note: The Student Start-up Scholarship ends for all students from 1 July 2017. The SSL replaced the Student Start-up Scholarship on 1 January 2016 for new YA, Austudy and ABSTUDY living allowance recipients.

Qualification & payability

The student start-up scholarship will be paid in a maximum of 2 half-year instalments in a calendar year. An instalment is payable if the person:

  • received a student start-up scholarship, ABSTUDY student start-up scholarship or Commonwealth Education Costs Scholarship (CECS) prior to 1 January 2016 and has remained continuously in receipt of YA (student), Austudy or ABSTUDY living allowance since receiving the scholarship,
  • is qualified for and receives at least the minimum basic rate of YA or Austudy and is studying full-time in an approved scholarship course,
  • is expected to commence or continue undertaking the course in the period of 35 days immediately after payment qualification for the student start-up scholarship payment,
  • is not likely to receive a disqualifying education costs scholarship in the next 6 months, and
  • has not qualified for a student start-up scholarship, or similar scholarship payment in the preceding 6 months. This can be shortened to a period of at least 2 months if it allows a person to receive their next instalment around the time they commence their next semester of study, provided they do not receive more than 2 payments in a calendar year.

Similar scholarship payments are:

  • ABSTUDY student start-up scholarship,
  • DVA student start-up scholarship payment,
  • start-up scholarships under the MRCA,
  • disqualifying education costs scholarship, provided the person has received the amount or was entitled to it but full entitlement was not received as the scholarship was suspended.

Note: From 1 January 2016, the student start-up scholarship is only payable to people who received a student start-up scholarship or CECS prior to 1 January 2016 and have remained continuously in receipt of YA (student), Austudy or ABSTUDY living allowance since that time. This means that people who did not receive a student start-up scholarship prior to 1 January 2016 are not eligible to receive a student start-up scholarship. Similarly, people who received a student start-up scholarship prior to 1 January 2016 however have not continuously received a student payment since that time are also not eligible to receive a student start-up scholarship. Instead these people may be eligible for a SSL (1.2.7.165).

People whose student payment has not been payable because of employment income and have qualified for a nil rate period since last receiving the student start-up scholarship are still considered to be 'in receipt' of student payments during this period (see 3.1.12) and may still be eligible for the student start-up scholarship.

Example 1: Kathleen commenced a 3 year Bachelor of Arts in March 2015 and lodged a claim for YA which was granted. As Kathleen was enrolled in an approved scholarship course and studying full-time, she received a student start-up scholarship for semesters 1 and 2 of 2015. As Kathleen received a student start-up scholarship prior to 1 January 2016 and has remained continuously on YA since that time, she will continue to receive the student start-up scholarship for the remainder of her course (provided she continues to remain eligible for student payments).

Example 2: Harry commenced a Bachelor of Nursing in 2014 and received Austudy. Harry received the student start-up scholarship in Semesters 1 and 2, 2014 as he was undertaking an approved scholarship course on a full-time basis. In 2015, Harry decided he no longer wanted to study nursing and takes a year off study. Harry's Austudy was cancelled and he received NSA while he was looking for work. In 2016, Harry decides to return to study and commences a Bachelor of Communications. As Harry has not continuously received a student payment since he last received the student start-up scholarship in semester 2, 2014, he is not eligible to receive a student start-up scholarship. Instead Harry will be able to apply for an SSL.

Example 3: Mark was granted YA as a student in March 2014. As Mark was enrolled in an approved scholarship course he received a student start-up scholarship in Semesters 1 and 2, 2014. In 2015, Mark transferred into a 2 year VET course (non-approved scholarship course) for which he continued to receive YA, however not the student start-up scholarship. If in 2017 after Mark finishes his VET course, he was to enrol in an approved scholarship course, Mark would be eligible for the student start-up scholarship, provided he has remained continuously in receipt of student payment since receiving the student start-up scholarship prior to 1 January 2016.

Example 4: Julie received a student start-up scholarship for Semester 2, 2015. In November 2015 at the end of semester, Julie picked up extra shifts at her casual job which meant that she earned significantly more income than usual for the month. Due to the high level of income, Julie's YA (student) was not payable for the month. As students who qualify for nil rate periods are still considered to be 'receiving' payment, Julie can be considered as having continuously received YA (student) since she last received an SSL and she will continue to be eligible for the student start-up scholarship in 2016.

Act reference: SSAct Section 592F Qualification for student start-up scholarship payment, section 592G Circumstances in which person is not qualified for student start-up scholarship payment

Disqualifying education costs scholarship & student start-up scholarship

A student cannot qualify for a student start-up scholarship if they are likely to receive a disqualifying education costs scholarship in the same period.

If a student has received a student start-up scholarship on the basis that they were not likely to receive a disqualifying education costs scholarship in the next 6 months and they are subsequently made an offer of a disqualifying education costs scholarship for that period that they intend to accept, then the Secretary may review the original decision and find that the student did not qualify for the student start-up scholarship at the qualification time.

Overpayments

If a student is paid an amount of student start-up scholarship to which they were not qualified, or cease to be qualified for, the amount paid will be a recoverable amount and an overpayment may be raised.

Unless exceptional circumstances apply which are beyond the student's control, a student will cease to be qualified for student start-up scholarship if:

  • they do not commence full-time study, or
  • they started the course but are not undertaking the same course, or another approved scholarship course, as a full-time student at the end of 35 days after the course commences, or
  • they were undertaking a course but are not undertaking the same course, or another approved scholarship course, as a full-time student at the end of 35 days after payment qualification.

Where a person has received a disqualifying education costs scholarship and a student start-up scholarship for the same period, the student start-up scholarship would normally be raised as an overpayment, unless the disqualifying education costs scholarship was paid in error.

Act reference: SSAct section 1223ABE Debts in respect of scholarship payments

Last reviewed: 3 July 2017