COVID-19: Tertiary student support package

An immediate student support package announced today in response to Covid-19 will assist students financially to continue their studies, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.     

“Covid-19 is impacting students’ ability to financially contribute to and continue their studies. They are facing additional personal costs associated with study in a different way while having fewer opportunities to work to support their study,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The Government wants to give certainty to students as soon as possible that they can continue to be engaged in their education and will be supported adequately until such time that tertiary education providers can put in place alternative ways of delivering teaching and learning.

“Today, we are announcing a domestic tertiary student package to:

  • help cover extra costs, by increasing the student loan amount available for course-related costs for full-time students from $1,000 to $2,000, on a temporary basis;
  • continue support payments for students unable to study on-line for up to 8 weeks
  • make technical changes to ensure that:
    • where students receive partial tuition fee refunds in 2020 because their course has been discontinued due to Covid-19, this will not affect their future entitlement to student loans
    • where students are unable to complete a course of study in 2020 due to Covid-19, this will not affect their entitlement to Fees Free tertiary study. 

“Today’s package means students who cannot access their courses on-line will continue to receive their student loan payments as normal throughout the four-week lockdown period, and for up to four weeks afterwards. This flexibility is already available for student living allowances.

“Domestic students who are enrolled in full-time tertiary study can access these supports from tomorrow, Wednesday 15 April.

“These pragmatic measures, coupled with the support MSD can already give, will provide an immediate response to the financial impact Covid-19 is having on tertiary students. It will support students to stay engaged in their education.

“This package provides relief to students straight away while we adapt to the immediate challenges posed by our response to COVID-19.

“We are also working on a second package of changes to prepare the system for significant growth in participation in key strategic areas as greater numbers of New Zealanders are expected to look to retrain and some industries need bigger workforces.   

“The three student loan changes will come from the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund and the impact on Fees Free payments can be met within existing baselines within Vote Tertiary Education,” Chris Hipkins said.

The cost of the package is $35 million in operating funding and $98 million in capital expenditure.

Who does this package apply to?

It applies to all fulltime domestic students studying at university, institutes of technology, polytechnics, wananga, or private training establishments this year whether they are enrolled already or planning to enrol.

What do students have to do to apply for support?

Information will be available from StudyLink (MSD), the Ministry of Education and their provider.

Do students have to extend their allowance or loan?

No, students will be able to opt-out if they do not want to increase their loan.

What additional support is available for students’ mental health needs?

Students can access mental health support services through their providers. The way these services are delivered may have changed, for example interviews may now be online or by phone. Students should talk to their providers regarding how to access these services.

There is a range of other support available to New Zealander’s. This includes online resources like the: Low Down, Mental Health Foundation and Ministry of Health’s website.