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.A.210 Approved course of education or study (YA (full-time student), Austudy, PES)


For the purposes of YA (full-time student), Austudy and PES, an approved course of education or study is one approved by the Minister for Social Services who has the authority to approve courses and institutions. Approved courses are set out in the Student Assistance (Education Institutions and Courses) Determination 2019 (the Determination).

The courses set out in the Determination are:

  • secondary courses, including

    • accredited secondary courses through a secondary school or TAFE institution, higher education institution or special school
    • ESL courses
    • preparatory courses for tertiary education
    • school-based apprenticeships or traineeships, or
    • International Baccalaureate.
  • tertiary courses, including
    • pre-vocational courses
    • ESL courses
    • VET courses
    • associate degrees or diplomas
    • diplomas or advanced diplomas
    • bachelor degrees
    • bridging study for overseas-trained professionals
    • graduate certificate or diploma courses
    • masters qualifying courses
    • approved masters by coursework programs
    • combined courses comprised of approved courses specified in Schedules 2 or 3 of the Determination
    • open learning, and
    • accelerator programs (otherwise known as Startup Year courses).

Note: If enrolled in an accelerator program, students must also be entitled to STARTUP-HELP assistance.

Note: There is NO minimum duration for a course to be approved, but the length of a course may influence the date from which a person is considered to be a full-time student.

If a person is undertaking a course which is not approved under the Determination, they will not be considered to be a full-time student for YA purposes, nor undertaking qualifying study for Austudy or PES purposes.

Note: Only VET courses at diploma level and above which are approved for VET Student Loans (VSL) and offered by education providers approved for VSL are approved for YA (full-time student), PES, and Austudy purposes.

Note: Only higher education courses offered by higher education providers approved for HELP are approved for YA (full-time student), PES, and Austudy purposes.

YA, Austudy, and PES recipients studying an approved VET course (at diploma level and above) or a higher education course which has subsequently became unapproved under the Determination part-way through their course, will continue to receive YA (full-time student), PES, or Austudy until they finish their course, provided they meet other eligibility requirements and there is no break in their payment entitlement.

Example: Jackie is currently receiving YA as she is studying a diploma course that is approved for VSL at an education provider approved for VSL, and she meets the other eligibility requirements for YA. One month after her course begins, the diploma course she is studying loses VSL approval. As a result of this, her diploma course would also no longer be approved for YA purposes. However, Jackie would continue to receive her YA payments until she finishes her course as long as there is not a break in her other eligibility for YA.

A course at masters level offered by a higher education institution is not an approved tertiary course for student payment purposes unless the masters course is specified in Schedule 3 of the Determination.

Note: Doctorate level courses only refer to doctorate qualifications which are Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Level 10. There are some masters level courses which may call themselves a 'Doctor' course but they may be AQF Level 9.

Example: Juris Doctor is not a doctorate course, it is an AQF Level 9 masters course.

Students enrolled in unapproved courses (for example, masters courses not listed in Schedule 3 of the Determination), with lower level approved awards nested within them (for example, graduate certificate, graduate diploma), are NOT eligible for payment whilst completing the lower level award. A nested course is defined as a single course of study where the student is enrolled in a higher level award, which has clear exit points for receiving lower level awards if the student exits the course early. For example, a student may be enrolled in a 2 year masters course, however exits the course after 12 months and receives a graduate diploma. If the student completes the masters, they will receive the masters degree, however will not also receive the graduate diploma.

Nested courses are distinct from combined courses which are courses that lead to 2 or more qualifications, for example, Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science.

Students enrolled in courses that result in 2 separate awards, one of which is an unapproved masters course (for example, Bachelor of Arts/Masters of Research), will only receive payment for the allowable length of time taken to complete the approved course (for example, Bachelor of Arts).

Where a person undertakes an internship, they will not be considered to be a full-time student for YA purposes, nor undertaking qualifying study for Austudy or PES purposes unless the internship is part of an approved course.

Note: Dependent young people undertaking full-time secondary study are not eligible for YA until they turn 18, unless they:

  • become independent
  • are required to live away from home to study, or
  • are determined by the Secretary not to be benefiting from FTB that is being paid to their parents.

Act reference: SSAct section 541B Undertaking full-time study, section 569A Undertaking qualifying study, section 569B Approved course of education or study, section 1061PC Approved course of education or study, section 1061PB Undertaking qualifying study, section 543A Minimum age for YA

Student Assistance (Education Institutions and Courses) Determination 2019

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