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 permanent resident
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. For more information and to apply for a student allowance, visit the Studylink website or phone 0800 88 99 00.
I am getting a loan for living costs and for tuition. I need a bit extra to buy my textbooks. Who can help?
You can apply for a separate loan for course-related costs. So if you need to buy a computer, textbooks, or help with transport costs, you can get up to $1000 each year. You can apply online and the money will be paid into your bank account. Note that as this is a loan, it will be added to your student loan, and you will have to pay it back.
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 $203.13 (current at July 2011), your student allowance will be reduced by $6.87.
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How do I get a student loan and how much interest will I be charged?
In general, if you're a New Zealand citizen, permanent resident, or refugee (under the Immigration Act 2009), and you are enrolled on a Tertiary Education Commission approved course, you can get an interest-free government student loan to pay for the course fees. You may be able to get your living costs and course materials costs covered by your student loan too, but eligibility criteria apply.
More information about eligibility for the student loan is on the Studylink website.
The course fees will be paid directly to the institution. You can apply for a loan or allowance online, at your local Studylink office, or by calling 0800 88 99 00.
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. 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 offers a secure web service along the lines of internet banking. 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. More information about paying back your student loan is on the StudyLink website.
You'll get a 10% repayment bonus if you make voluntary repayments on top of the required repayment amount, and they total more than $500 in a tax year (1 April to 31 March). So if you make voluntary repayments totalling $650, your student loan debt would be further reduced by $65.
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.
I have a large student loan. Will this affect my chances of getting a mortgage from the bank?
Your student loan and the repayments you make on it will be looked at by the lender when considering your application, along with your other debts such as hire purchases, credit card debt or car loans. When lenders work out how big a mortgage you can afford to repay, a large student loan will reduce the amount you can borrow to buy a house. This will depend on the bank you are borrowing from and how much of the house value you want to borrow. See our information about mortgages.