Student Income 

Who can get a student allowance?

A student allowance is a weekly payment to help with your living expenses while you study full-time. You need to be

  • aged 18 or over
  • be studying full-time
  • be at secondary school or on an approved tertiary course
  • be a New Zealand citizen or meet residency requirements

The amount you get will depend on things like your income, your parent's income if you are under 24, whether you live in the parental home, or whether you have dependants.

In general, you will receive the student allowance for up to 200 weeks for tertiary study or 92 weeks for secondary school study. From 1 January 2014, if you will be aged 40 years or more when you begin your study you will receive the student allowance for only 120 weeks.

For more information about the student allowance, visit the Studylink website or phone 0800 88 99 00.

Can I work as well as get the student allowance?

Yes, but your student allowance payments may be reduced depending on how much you earn. If you earn more than the threshold then your allowance will be reduced by the same amount. So if you earn $210 a week before tax from your job, and if the threshold is $208.00 (current at April 2013), your student allowance will be reduced by $2.

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How do I get a student loan and how much interest will I be charged?

In general, if you are a New Zealand citizen or meet the  residency requirements, and you are enrolled on a Tertiary Education Commission approved course, you can get a student loan to pay for the course fees (this money will be paid directly to the institution).

You may be able to get your living costs and course materials costs covered by your student loan too, but eligibility criteria apply (see the next question). More information about eligibility for the student loan is on the Studylink website.

Your loan will be interest free as long as you are based in New Zealand and don’t incur late payment interest. For details on loan fees, interest rates, and the salary threshold at which you have to start making repayments, see a copy of the loan agreement.

You can apply for a loan or allowance online, at your local Studylink office, or by calling 0800 88 99 00.

I am getting a loan for living costs and for tuition. Can I borrow extra to buy my textbooks?

The Student Loan has three components – living costs, fees and course-related costs.

You can apply for a loan of up to $1000 per year for course-related costs e.g. a computer, textbooks, or help with transport costs. If the loan is granted, the money will be paid into your bank account. The amount will be added to your student loan account.

You won’t be able to get a student loan for course-related costs if: 

  • you are studying part-time (you’ll only be able to borrow for the course fees)
  • you are aged 55 years or over (you’ll only be able to borrow for the course fees)
  • the course you are studying is already paid for by the Government (as the course-related costs are already paid for by the Government)

What will happen to my student loan when I go overseas?

As long as you live in New Zealand your student loan will be interest-free. If you go overseas for more than six months (184 days) then you will be charged interest on your loan (there are exceptions). If you earn any money while you're overseas then you will need to let Inland Revenue know and you will have to make repayments.

More information is on the IRD website. It is best to discuss your situation with Inland Revenue before you go overseas so that you can keep on top of any payments you will need to make.

How do I contact the IRD about my student loan when I am overseas?

There are several ways to contact the IRD when you are overseas, but it is important to know which department you need to contact. The IRD provides a secure web service along the lines of internet banking, called myIR. It allows you to view your tax information and make payments online and scan through necessary documents. In order to use this service, you must register on the IRD website

There are different phone numbers to use depending on whether you are based in New Zealand or overseas and whether your query is about student loans in general or overdue payments in particular. Check which phone number to call, on the Student loans contact page.

If you contact the IRD through the post, you should always include your name, contact details, and a return postal address. Call IRD on 0064 4 978 0779 if you are unsure which address to send your enquiry to.

How do I pay my student loan once I start working?

Once you are earning over the student loan repayment threshold then you will have to make repayments (even if you are still studying). Repayments are made to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD). You will have to tell your employer that you have a student loan and choose the correct tax code for your employer to use in relation to the tax deductions from your pay. They will deduct your student loan repayments from your wages if you earn more than the threshold.

If you’ll be self-employed, you may have to file an IR3 or ask IRD for a personal tax summary. IRD will use this information to work out how much you need to repay towards your student loan, and you’ll need to pay this amount by 7 February of the next year (or 7 April if you have a tax agent).

You can use this student loan repayment calculator to see how much you would have to repay, and how much you would save by making extra voluntary repayments.

More information about paying back your student loan is on the StudyLink website.

Will a large student loan affect my chances of getting a mortgage from the bank?

Your student loan and the repayments you make on it will form part of your credit history, along with your other debts such as hire purchases, credit card debt or car loans.

If you have large debts or are behind on repaying your debts, it could prevent you from getting a mortgage or from borrowing as much as you’d like. It will depend on the bank you intend to borrow from. See our information about credit checks.

Can I be made liable for my son’s student loan debt?

If the loan is under your son’s name then no-one else can be made liable for the debt. 

If the student was aged less 18 years at the time (and wasn’t married, in a civil union or had a dependent child), then as the parent (or guardian) you would have signed the loan contract to show that you gave consent to them taking out the loan. However this doesn’t make you a guarantor for the loan.  The student is still the one who is responsible for paying back the loan.

I’m having problems meeting my student loan repayments. Should I apply for bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy should only be considered as a last resort.

If you’re having trouble paying back your student loan debt, contact Inland Revenue as soon as possible to discuss your options.

What happens to my student loan if the education provider closes down?

If you withdraw from your course, or the course becomes unavailable, you’ll still be responsible for paying back your loan.

You should be able to get a refund of your course fees (and any other related fees paid directly to them) from the course provider and this money will be credited to your student loan account.

You can read more about student fee protection requirements on the NZQA website, or about disputes with your tertiary education provider on our Problems with tertiary providers page.