A Student Loan can help to finance your study at a tertiary provider and is made up of three parts:

  1. compulsory fees,
  2. course-related costs and
  3. living costs.

The Student Loan Scheme was established in 1992 to assist students to overcome financial barriers to undertaking tertiary study.

One thing to remember is that you have to pay a Student Loan back. If you’re planning to study at tertiary level, it’s important to take the time to set yourself some goals and plan how you’re going to achieve them. If you are young and intend to take out a student loan in order to study you must think seriously about the implications of that lending. Studying can be lengthy and costly exercise and a student loan may be around for a long time.

It is also important then that before you do apply for a loan that you make sure you chose the right course and understand how much the cost of study might be. There are many times a student begins down a course of study and finds somewhere along the line that they want to change tact. This can add to the cost of your study…time is money where student loans are concerned!

Three agencies are involved with the student loan scheme:

Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education is responsible for strategic policies in relation to the Student Loan Scheme

Ministry of Social Development

StudyLink, a service of the Ministry of Social Development, is responsible for the administration and delivery of student loans to students during the year of study. At the end of each academic year the Ministry of Social Development transfers those loans to Inland Revenue for collection.

Inland Revenue

Inland Revenue is responsible for maintaining the loan accounts after the end of each study year, including the assessment and collection of loan repayments. You will find information on interest rates, interest write-offs, other write-offs, repayments, debt levels and overdue debt levels on the Inland Revenue student loans web site.

How do I know if I’m eligible for a student loan?

To get a Student Loan, you’ll need to:

  • be a New Zealand citizen, permanent resident or refugee
  •  sign a contract with the government
  • be enrolled on a Tertiary Education Commission approved course. The course must be full-time (or limited full-time with our approval) or part-time and 32 weeks or longer.

So what’s all this full-time, limited full-time and part-time study?

The Tertiary Education Commission decides if a course is either full-time or part-time by applying what’s called an EFTS (equivalent full-time student) value to each course. The EFTS value is determined by the content of your course. If you’re not sure of the EFTS value of your course, check with your education provider.


Your course must reach a certain EFTS value to be classed as full-time.

This all becomes important where student loans are concerned because of the way student loans are allocated. For example, if you are studying part-time, part-year (less than 32 weeks) and your course has an EFTS value of 0.25 or more, you can only get the compulsory fees part of the Student Loan.

To get the living costs part of the Student Loan, your course must be full-time or limited full-time.

What is limited full-time?

Limited full-time study is when you are treated as a full-time student when you are not. Confused? This definition of limited full-time study is used when assessing someones application for financial help.

A student may qualify for limited full-time status if:

They’ve had advice from your education provider to study less than full-time for one of the following reasons:

  • you have an illness or disability that stops you studying full-time or
  • it’s in your best interest to study less than full-time or
  • you can’t study full-time for sufficient cause outside your control.

You’re finishing a recognised programme and to do this you need to study less than full-time but more than half the work of a full-time course.

To apply for limited full-time status you need to fill in a Limited full-time application and a Student Allowance or Student Loan application.

Download the Limited full-time application form

Apply for a Student Allowance or Student Loan

Not being eligible for all parts of a student loan

There are certain situations in which a student is unable to access all parts of the Student loan. Here’s some info on the different situations and how this division of student loans parts works.

If you’re in prison

If you’re in prison you can apply for a Student Loan for compulsory fees and course-related costs (and living costs if you’re on home detention).

If you’re on a benefit

If you get the Domestic Purposes, Widows or Invalids Benefit, or Emergency Maintenance Allowance from Work and Income, you can only get a Student Loan for compulsory fees and course-related costs. You can’t get a loan for living costs.

The best person to talk to about studying and students loans if you are in this position is your case manager.

If you get the Training Incentive Allowance

If you get the Training Incentive Allowance, the amount you can get for compulsory fees and course-related costs goes down by the amount of Training Incentive Allowance you get (not including any Training Incentive Allowance you get for childcare, transport or disability-related costs). Again the best person to talk to about studying and student loans if you are in this position is your case manager.

There are also situations where you may not be able to borrow the full amount in order to pay your compulsory course fees. This may mean you will need to find the balance of the fees to pay yourself.

Situations where this will be the case will be is you are currently bankrupt or if you are on a course already paid by the government such as STAR or TOPS courses.

Where to go for help

The agencies involved in the student loan scheme are there to help. They’ll be able to discuss your student loan needs with you and head you down the right track.

Studylink knows all there is to know about student loans and you can call them free on 0800 88 99 00.

IRD can also be very helpful. Call free on 0800 377 778


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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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