A Shepparton mother says her son will be $6000 out of pocket after she discovered he was not eligible for Centrelink scholarships because he is a TAFE student.By Sophie Malcolm
A Shepparton mother says her son will be $6000 out of pocket after she discovered he was not eligible for Centrelink scholarships because he is a TAFE student.
Isa Graham’s son Kurtis, 18, moved to Wangaratta this week to begin a full-time course in digital and interactive games.
Ms Graham said Centrelink told her he would not be eligible for a relocation or start-up scholarship because he was studying at TAFE.
The relocation scholarship is a payment for students on Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY Living Allowance who have to live away from home to study.
For the first year a full-time student moves away, the payment is $4048. The student start-up scholarship is $1025 for each six months of study.
While Kurtis will receive a living away from home Youth Allowance rate, he will receive neither scholarship.
His Youth Allowance rate is $515 per fortnight. After rent, Kurtis has $200 per fortnight left over.
Ms Graham, a sole parent, is now cutting her expenses to help him get by.
‘‘Originally he wanted to go to Melbourne to attend Swinburne TAFE .
‘‘It’s more than 90 minutes by public transport and that’s the guideline with it.’’
The Department of Human Services’ website states that vocational education and training courses at TAFE do not attract a scholarship. Kurtis’ course, a Certificate IV, is classified as a vocational education training course.
Ms Graham said it was unfair as Kurtis was still working towards his future career.
‘‘Parents of primary students get a little bit of a start-up thing, secondary kids get something, uni students get something, TAFE students get nothing.
‘‘They’re undervaluing TAFE.’’
She said the money would give Kurtis some flexibility and allow him to settle in before finding a part-time job.
‘‘If he had that extra money, that would help, that would make a huge difference,’’ she said.
She said she was concerned for other rural students who may be in the same situation.
‘‘I wonder how many other kids are missing out on it .
Ms Graham contacted Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone to discuss the issue.
‘‘I don’t think it’s fair that if you are a university student you can get the relocation grant, but not if you’re a TAFE student,’’ Dr Stone said.
‘‘You only have to wonder what the rationale is.
‘‘It requires a policy change, unfortunately there’s not much money around, but I think it’s an important issue .
A spokesperson for the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education did not explain why TAFE students were not eligible for the scholarships.
‘‘An eligible dependent student who needs to move away from home to study at a TAFE can apply for the living-away-from-home Youth Allowance rate which is significantly higher than the living-at-home rate. The student may also be eligible for Rent Assistance,’’ the spokesperson said.
‘‘As part of the Australian Government’s comprehensive reforms to student payments in response to recommendations from a major review of higher education, student start-up and relocation scholarships were introduced in 2010 for higher education students receiving student payments.’’
‘‘The scholarships replaced earlier Commonwealth scholarships that were administered by universities and only available to a limited number of university students.’’
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