ABSTUDY and AIC temporary policy changes

Published: Tuesday, 7 September 2021
school at home

ABSTUDY and Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) temporary policy changes for boarding students affected by the coronavirus pandemic this year.

Re-introduction of temporary changes to boarding payments for Terms 3 and 4 of 2021 ­ ABSTUDY and AIC students

As you may be aware, the Australian Government introduced temporary changes to ABSTUDY and AIC policy for Terms 2, 3 and 4 of 2020 in response to impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The Government is re-introducing temporary provisions for boarding payments for Terms 3 and 4 of 2021 to support the boarding sector to maintain continuity of education services to boarding students affected by the coronavirus resurgence, including protecting students’ boarding places so they can return to boarding as soon as they are able.

Under these temporary arrangements, boarding students who qualified for ABSTUDY or AIC boarding payments in Term 2 of 2021 will continue to qualify for payments in Term 3 and 4 this year, provided they maintain their existing school and boarding arrangements in Terms 3 and 4.

These temporary provisions will allow boarding payments to continue for students who cannot return to boarding due to impacts of the pandemic, such as lockdowns, border and travel restrictions  or concerns around the risk of contracting and potentially bringing the virus back to community.

Boarding payments can continue for students learning remotely due to the pandemic provided all the following criteria are met:

  • The student remains enrolled/registered for the same boarding arrangement.
  • The student’s boarding place is reserved for their return as soon as they are reasonably able to resume boarding.
  • The school/boarding provider maintains ongoing contact with the student and/or the student’s family during the period.
  • Where the student normally resides at a boarding school or other boarding provider, the school or boarding provider provides the student with the curriculum and necessary support for remote learning.

How do the temporary boarding payment arrangements work?

For students who were boarding in Term 2 2021 and remain enrolled, Services Australia will make Term 3 payments automatically based on the student’s Term 2 payment arrangements. 

For students who were enrolled in Term 2 but commenced late in Term 3 or arranged their enrolment during term 2 and were due to commence in Term 3, Services Australia will contact the relevant school/boarding provider where necessary to confirm the student’s enrolment.

A similar arrangement will apply for Term 4. For students who were boarding in Term 3 2021 and remain enrolled, Services Australia will make Term 4 payments automatically based on the student’s Term 3 payment arrangements. 

For students who were enrolled in Term 3 but commenced late in Term 4 or arranged their enrolment during term 3 and were due to commence in Term 4, Services Australia will contact the relevant school/boarding provider where necessary to confirm the student’s enrolment.

For Terms 3 and 4 of 2021, payments will continue to be made by instalments as close to the normal scheduled timing as possible, based on the current enrolment information held by Services Australia.

As usual, student entitlements may vary based on individual circumstances such as parental income. 

What do boarding providers need to do?

Where students continue their education remotely, boarding providers must:

  • remain in contact with students and continue to provide educational support and pastoral care to keep students engaged
  • prioritise face to face learning when it is safe to do so
  • notify Services Australia immediately if the student discontinues their enrolment.

Where students are able to safely return to boarding, their boarding payments will continue in accordance with the usual arrangements. Fares Allowance will be available for eligible ABSTUDY students, as per the usual processes.

Where a new student commences boarding in Term 3 or Term 4, Away From Home entitlements may be approved if the student has enrolled/registered this boarding arrangement prior to the start of the term and satisfied all other requirements.

What about ABSTUDY for tuition fees?

ABSTUDY School Fees Allowance (Group 2) for Terms 3 and 4 will continue to be paid for tuition fees while schools continue to provide a curriculum and the necessary educational support to the eligible student.

Who to contact

If you have enquiries regarding these new policy arrangements, please contact Services Australia 

For ABSTUDY payment enquiries, please phone the Third Party Contact Channel on 131 158.

For AIC payment enquiries, please phone 132 318.