Student visa annual living costs increase from 1 February 2018

From tomorrow, the benchmark annual living costs for Subclass 500 – Student and Subclass 590 – Student Guardian visas will increase.

Living costs are one of four financial components that are considered in an assessment of whether a student visa applicant and any migrating family members can meet the costs and expenses of their intended stay in Australia. The other three are the student’s tuition fees, travel costs for all applicants, and the costs for any school-aged dependents. The total amount required to be shown except for travel costs is only for the first 12 months of a student’s stay in Australia or, if the student does not intend to study in Australia for more than 12 months, on a pro rata basis.

The changes are mild and reflect Consumer Price Index increases. They are:

  • For the primary applicant of a student or student guardian visa: AUD 20 290, up from AUD 19 830,
  • For spouses or de facto partners of the primary applicant: AUD 7 100, up from AUD 6 940, and
  • For dependent children: AUD 3 040, up from AUD 2 970.

Annual school costs for each school-aged dependent remains at AUD 8 000.

Of course, tuition and travel costs are determined by the education institution and the country of origin of the visa applicant respectively, so they cannot be set in advance. Tuition fees are calculated by any outstanding amounts yet to be paid for the first 12 months of intended study.

The requirement to demonstrate financial capacity to cover these costs is dependent on either a written request by the Minister or pre-determined by a computer program available online. This is referred to as the Document Checklist Tool on the Department of Home Affairs’ website. The program uses the country of passport of the primary applicant and the education institution where they intend to study to determine whether evidence of financial capacity and English language proficiency is required.

Regardless of whether an official request is received, all applicants must declare that they have genuine access to sufficient funds to cover their costs and expenses in Australia. Student visa applicants who are not required to provide evidence of financial capacity, however, may not realise just how much they are expected to have.