It’s hard enough to be a country kid and study away from home. Add in the financial burden into the mix and for some, the prospect of a tertiary education can be slim.

The Nationals have once again proved we are committed to ensuring that regional, rural and remote students have the same access to educational opportunities as those who live in the big cities with a huge funding boost included in the most recent Federal Budget to improve the Youth Allowance scheme.

An additional $53.9 million has been allocated to allow more country kids to undertake their tertiary education.

The boost will allow an extra 2,300 students from the regions to become eligible for the independent rate of Youth Allowance, which is higher than the dependent rate.

Previously, if a prospective student from a regional or rural area needed to leave home to study, their rate of Government support was determined based off their personal income and assets, as well as their parents’ income and assets. The assets test often included things such as the family farm or business, rendering thousands of students ineligible for the higher rate.

Independence is automatically granted when a person is over 22 years of age. However, if the student lives in a regional or rural area, they can qualify for the higher independent rate by earning a certain amount of income in the period between finishing high school and starting further education if their parent’s income and assets fall below the threshold.

This additional $53.9 million will allow more students to be able to obtain the independent rate by raising the allowable level of parental assets and income under the test.

In addition to the changes to Youth Allowance, a further $38.1 million has been provided to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who need to move away from home for education purposes.

These changes will encourage more country students to finish their secondary educations, knowing that access and support for further study will be easier to obtain.

The Government has also accepted all 11 recommendations of the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education to support more regional and remote students to receive a high-quality education.

The Nats are committed to ensuring that regional and remote students have the same access to education and the same opportunities as kids who live in big cities.

As well as making it easier for regional students to attend city universities, the recent Federal Budget also included $123.6 million over five years to our regional universities for additional Commonwealth Supported Places, and $14 million over four years has been specifically allocated to create an additional 185 Commonwealth Supported Places for students commencing their Bachelor Degree through a Regional Study Hub.

These great initiatives all work to ensure that living outside of the major cities is no obstacle to obtaining a world-class education.