Rural students allowance windfall
AFTER months of stalemate in the Senate the Federal Government has succeeded in getting changes to youth allowance restrictions, much to the relief of local rural students.
The plight of rural students was recognised and rewarded as declaring them as independent became more reachable and the introduction of start-up scholarships praised.
According to the changes, rural students can still qualify to be independent if they have worked 15 hours a week for 18 months or have earned $19,532 over two years.
This also applies to those students from remote areas who leave home to study and whose parents’ joint income is less than $150,000.
All other students from non-remote areas will have to meet the ‘30 hour a week for two years’ work requirement.
This has been praised by local Southern Cross University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Lee as it makes sense with the lack of employment in rural areas.
“I think what they have done is to acknowledge is it hard to obtain the employment needed to meet the requirements,” Prof Lee said.
“The issue is with qualifying as independent.
“These young people have a demonstrated ability to go through to uni, not to work a year or two before they can get there,” he said.
Although the actual rate of youth allowance has not improved, theGovernment has introduced start-up scholarships and relocations scholarships.
Students, including rural students, who must move away to study, may be eligible for $4000 in their first year of study and $1000 for each year after that. All students will start receiving the $1000 start up scholarships from next month.
Despite the scholarships and relaxed rural-orientated rules, local students and parents still see some obstacles.
“My daughter had no option but to go to uni in Ipswich to study vet science and she didn’t qualify for youth allowance because of my income and assets,” nursing student and mother Debbie Foreman said.
“I think this is an issue. It is unfair as we are cash poor and trying to sell our assets but my daughter still doesn’t qualify.”
SCU student Samara Ellemia was cut off from youth allowance during the Christmas holidays and is struggling to survive on next to nothing.
“I received a rural scholarship and I am living off that at the moment,” she said.
“I think the scholarship and youth allowance are enough to get me by but not just the scholarship.”