Heaps! If it’s anything to do with financial support while studying, StudyLink can help. Here are some of their services:
Student Allowance is a weekly payment to help with your living expenses while you study full-time. You don’t have to pay this back.
You may be able to get the Student Allowance if you are:
- at least 18 years old (some 16–17-year-olds can also get it)
- under 65 on the start date of your course (for study starting on or after 1 January 2014)
- studying full-time
- studying an approved course
- a New Zealand citizen or meet the residence requirements.
You can use the ‘What you can get’ tool on the StudyLink website to check your eligibility.
Depending on your circumstances, such as your age, your living situation, your income, your parents’ income or whether you are considered to be independent from your parents, you can receive Student Allowance of up to $174.21 per week.
If you qualify for Student Allowance, you may also be able to get an Accommodation Benefit.
Go to the StudyLink Student Allowance online rate calculator to find out how much you may be able to get.
There are circumstances where your Student Allowance could be reduced or not paid at all. These include if you move overseas, leave your course, or exceed 200 weeks of Student Allowance for tertiary study. Check with StudyLink if your circumstances change. You can do this online using MyStudyLink. You don’t want to unintentionally rack up a debt!
Student Loan is the money that pays for your course. It’s made up of three parts – course fees, course-related costs, and living costs. You must pay back a Student Loan.
You may be able to get a Student Loan if you:
- are studying an approved course which is:
- full-time; or
- part-time and 32 weeks or longer; or
- part-time and less than 32 weeks with an EFTS value of 0.25 or more.
- are a New Zealand citizen or meet the residence requirements
- sign a contract with the Government
- nominate a New Zealand-based contact person (someone who resides in New Zealand).
You can use the ‘Who can get it’ tool on the StudyLink website to check your eligibility.
You can borrow up to 2 EFTS worth of study each year (see box for what this means), and you can generally only get a Student Loan for 7 EFTS of study in your lifetime, so it pays to choose your course wisely.
Get Sussed for study
‘Sussed’ is StudyLink’s online reality check. It’s the perfect way to look at your financial options as a freshly-minted adult and plan your living budget. For example, will it be broadband and baked beans? Dial-up and dining out? How much will you set aside for transport, groceries, and those unexpected expenses every week? The results – how much money you may need to support yourself – could surprise you …
Tessa-Rose Midgley is studying a Diploma in Broadcasting and Radio Journalism at Whitireia New Zealand.
“I didn’t use the Sussed tool but I really should have because financially I’m not in a good place.”
Good advice, Tessa-Rose! Fortunately, once you’ve worked out your budget through Sussed, it explains all your options, including Student Allowance or Student Loan, scholarships, part-time work, and receiving support from parents or whānau.
Get yourself Sussed, check it out at www.studylink.govt.nz
When is the best time to apply
Many students wait for their NCEA results in January before they apply for their Student Loan or Student Allowance (or both). Don’t! StudyLink will set a date in December that you will need to have your 2015 applications in by if you want everything sorted ready for the start of your study.
You can always change your mind or withdraw your application if you don’t get into the course you want. Just be sure to get your application in!
“I applied in April because my course started in July. I moved from Auckland to Wellington, so I had to have everything sorted before I left,” says Tessa-Rose.
Doon Hanrahan is studying social work at uni, and she cautions you to apply for a Student Loan or Allowance with plenty of time to spare before your course begins.
“I applied in October and it took till February to get everything sorted, around the time uni started.”
This is one important reason for having a December application deadline. The hard-working people at StudyLink need time to process your application (along with the other 180,000 or so people applying for a Loan or Allowance at the same time).
Raven David is studying a Bachelor of Creative Writing at Whitireia New Zealand, and she has plenty of experience applying for StudyLink assistance.
“I’ve studied for a while, so StudyLink has all my personal information and I’ve already gone through the process of confirming my identity. When I first applied in 2007, I sent my application in November without waiting for my results. It takes a while to process a first loan application, so even if I failed with my NCEA results, it would be okay because I could always stop my application.”
The application process
You can apply for all your student financial support on StudyLink’s website: www.studylink.govt.nz
Having gone through the online application process, Raven David’s advice is to be prepared.
“Nowadays, you can get an online account and start the process, and then, of course, StudyLink will notify you what pieces of information you need to send in – birth certificate, bank account statement, and so forth.”
Raven says the ongoing relationship with StudyLink gets easier, but there are still documents needed each year you receive a Student Loan or Allowance.
“After your first year, every year gets easier because you don’t have to do identification and account authentication. However, providing parents’ information can be difficult, especially if your parents live overseas, or own their own business. Getting their financial information can be hard, but it has to be done every year.”
Tessa-Rose Midgley says she did “everything online” during her most recent application.
“Everyone’s experience is different, but I had a really positive experience. I did everything online, and if I got stuck, I gave StudyLink a call, which was probably only once in the entire time I dealt with them. The online application process is really simple to use.”
Tessa says it’s important to be patient when applying a Student Loan or Student Allowance for the first time.
“If you’re going to use StudyLink, you have to go in with an open mind and realise they are dealing with every student in the country. Especially around the pressure times – like when you have a whole new year of uni students starting. Have a bit of patience with them.”
What is EFTS?
EFTS stands for ‘Equivalent Full-time Student’. The EFTS value is a measure of the amount of study or the workload involved in undertaking a course. A year of full-time study is usually between 0.8 EFTS and 1.2 EFTS. If you’re unsure of the EFTS value of your course, check with your tertiary institution.
7 steps to your student finances
- Apply at www.studylink.govt.nz for your financial assistance
Remember to get your application in before the December deadline!
- StudyLink begins processing your application
They will check the information you give them and get things underway. You don’t need to do anything at this point unless you hear from them.
- StudyLink will contact you
You’ll receive a letter telling you what they need next. Make sure you read, sign, and return it (if required) and send in any documents StudyLink asks for.
- Use MyStudyLink to track your application
You can check to see if your documents have been received, check your Student Allowance and Student Loan status, view and update your personal details, get your mail, and apply for your course-related costs (once you’ve returned your contact).
- StudyLink checks your details with your education provider
You need to make sure you’re fully enrolled before this can happen.
- StudyLink will finish processing your application
StudyLink will send you a letter letting you know what you qualify for and when your payments will start.
- Your payments can start
The earliest your payments can start is in the second week of your course. This is because StudyLink makes payments in arrears.