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Youth Allowance Independent Test Will Be Easier Under Coalition

And more scholarships for rural and regional students.

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People under the age of 22 will have to wait less time to be eligible for the "independent" rate of Youth Allowance and Abstudy, under a plan announced by deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce.

Under current Centrelink arrangements, people under 22 need to be employed for at least 18 months before they are able to collect the independent rate of Youth Allowance or Abstudy.

Australian Government / Via humanservices.gov.au

The Coalition would reduce that waiting time to 14 months.

"This will mean a student is able to meet the earnings criteria to prove independence with one gap year as opposed to having to work for longer and delay their university commencement," Joyce told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

"The longer a student is not engaged in further studies after university, the less likely it is that they will re-engage."

He says this would cost the budget $83 million.

The Coalition will also create $20,000 scholarships for regional students and increase the boarding allowance for isolated families, if re-elected on July 2.

National Press Club / ABC24

The $20,000 scholarships will be open to rural and regional young people studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses.

Isolated low-income families will also be eligible for a top-up to their boarding allowance. This means low-income families with students who live away from home for school will have access to more money to afford boarding fees.

"It is enough they have to live without their children. As well, we burden them with [boarding school fees]," Joyce said.

This 50% increase in boarding allowance will cost $44.7 million, Joyce said.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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