Extensions to lifetime limits

Information for education providers about extensions to entitlement limits for Student Allowance and Student Loan.

Student Allowance entitlement limits

Students can only get the Student Allowance for a certain amount of time - this is called their entitlement limit. The entitlement limits are:

  • 92 weeks for secondary school study
  • 200 weeks for tertiary study, or
  • 120 weeks for tertiary study if they are aged 40 or over at the date they start study.

A student may be able to get an extension in certain circumstances if they need extra time to finish their studies due to special circumstances.

Special circumstances normally only apply to situations where personal circumstances have prevented a student from completing their study within the relevant entitlement limit.

These personal circumstances would generally

  • not be able to be anticipated by the student
  • be beyond the student's control.

For example an illness, injury, accident, bereavement, or personal difficulty that has prevented the student completing their study programme within the expected timeframe.

The education provider's role

An application for an extension to a Student Allowance entitlement limit requires a supporting statement from someone who is familiar with the student’s situation. This could be either

  • an authorised staff member from the relevant department at the education provider, or
  • someone of standing in the community such as a Minister, Doctor or Kaumatua.

The supporting statement needs to explain the circumstances that prevented the student from completing their studies within their entitlement limit.

Note: students who have been approved to study less than full-time under the Limited Full-time provision(s), may qualify for assistance beyond the 120-week or 200-week limit, provided they have special circumstances that justify an extension.

Student Loan lifetime limits

A student can only get a Student Loan for a certain amount of study - this is called the lifetime limit.

The lifetime limit is measured using the EFTS value of the study undertaken by the student. The limit is 7 EFTS which is about 7 or 8 years of study for a full-time student.

The lifetime limit includes the EFTS for all study starting on or after 1 January 2010 where a Student Loan has been accessed.

Once any part of the Student Loan has been used, such as living costs, fees or course-related costs, the EFTS for that loan will count towards the students 7 EFTS limit.

A student may be able to get an extension to their lifetime limit in some situations, including if they are:

  • finishing a paper or course of study even if it takes them over the 7 EFTS limit
  • completing post-graduate study (up to an additional 1 EFTS)
  • studying a long undergraduate qualification (up to an additional 3 EFTS)
  • undertaking doctoral study (up to an additional 3 EFTS).

The following programmes are considered a long undergraduate qualification:

  • Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) at the University of Auckland, or the University of Otago
  • Bachelor of Optometry (BOptom)  at the University of Auckland
  • Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) at the University of Otago
  • Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc) at Massey University.

Note: students can only receive a maximum of 3 EFTS for these extensions so if they're granted an extension of 1 EFTS for postgraduate study they will only be able to access up to 2 EFTS extensions for Doctoral study or 2 EFTS for long undergraduate qualification.

Generally, a student will not be able to receive more than 10 EFTS of Student Loan entitlement including these extensions.

Withdrawing from a course

If a student withdraws from their course it will not be counted in their lifetime limit if:

  • they receive a full refund of their tuition fees before the end of that course
  • they withdrew from their course within 30 days of the date it started and received a partial fee refund.

Withdrawing from part of a course

If a student withdraws from part of their course (eg papers or a semester), the EFTS value of the portion they withdrew from won't be included in their lifetime limit.