As the new university year looms closer many rural students are still being left confused and unsure about their futures, with the changes to youth allowance remaining ambiguous. This comes after the government’s proposed changes last year passed through the House of Representatives but not yet the senate, which if passed would make it harder for students to claim independence.
With some students relocating as early as seventeen year of age and five hours away or more, it would seem that finances should be kept as simple as possible, but if the changes pass the senate, students whose parents earn over a combined $150,000 annually won’t be eligible. According to Hannah Bruhn, a 2009 year 12 graduate from Mount Gambier these changes would rule out almost sixty percent of her graduating class with many being forced to stay back in the country.
Rural student Peter Andrinopoulos, who graduated in 2008, reinforced this saying that if the changes had already been made he would have stayed at home. If these changes were implemented, it would seem that the ones to benefit would be those whose parents earn under the threshold, with some students not even needing to take a gap year.
But even with these possibilities, the confusion that has been created by both the Federal governments and Centrelink has still managed to stop many students taking the leap to university. Rural students expected to begin university this year after already taking their gap year are now deciding to stay back at home expressing their confusion and exasperation at the system.
Although there are positives and negatives to the proposed changes, it seems to hardly matter if students are too overwhelmed even to apply.
By Georgia Kelly-Bakker