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Commonwealth government assistance to students is summarised in table 10.5. Student numbers should not be totalled, as some students can receive the Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS) in conjunction with one of the other payments (see the section Student Financial Supplement Scheme below).
Austudy and Youth Allowance
In 1998, Youth Allowance replaced AUSTUDY (now called Austudy) and a number of other payments for young people under 25 years. Youth Allowance is for full-time students under 25 years and unemployed people under 21 years. Austudy now covers full-time students 25 years and over. Youth Allowance and Austudy are administered by the Department of Family and Community Services, and delivered by Centrelink. At 30 June 2001, some 308,663 and 41,992 students benefited from Youth Allowance and Austudy respectively.
ABSTUDY represents a major component of the Commonwealth Government's commitment, under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy, to encourage Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to take full advantage of educational opportunities, to promote equality of education, to be involved in decision making, and to improve their educational outcomes.
The scheme provides financial assistance for eligible Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who undertake approved secondary or tertiary education courses by full-time study, by correspondence, or who undertake part-time tertiary study. There is also some assistance available to primary students aged 14 years or over who live at home. In 2000-01, ABSTUDY assisted over 50,000 students.
Assistance for isolated children (AIC)
The AIC scheme helps the families of primary and secondary students, and tertiary students under 16 years old, who do not have reasonable daily access to an appropriate government school primarily because of their geographic isolation. An 'appropriate school' is a government school which offers the student's level of study or, if the student has special health-related or educational needs, one which provides access to the facilities, programs and/or environment required for those needs.
Apart from the additional Boarding Allowance, all AIC allowances are free from income and assets tests, but applicants must meet the eligibility criteria. In 2000-01, the AIC scheme assisted 11,993 students, and expenditure was $36m.
Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS)
The SFSS is a voluntary loan scheme introduced in 1993. It is available to students receiving Youth Allowance, Austudy, ABSTUDY and the Pensioner Education Supplement. Dependent full-time students who are not eligible for Youth Allowance may still access a SFSS loan if parental income is below a certain threshold, which was $61,200 in 2000-01. Loan repayments do not commence until five years after the loan is taken out and only when income reaches a certain level ($32,918 in 2000-01).
During 2000-01, 41,382 students took up the SFSS option, receiving $158m in loans. Students receiving Youth Allowance took out $81m in SFSS loans, Austudy recipients took out $42m in SFSS loans, and ABSTUDY recipients $35m in loans.