Unable to return to New Zealand
If you were intending to travel back to New Zealand but are now unable to, you can apply for your student loan to be interest-free. You'll need to have been a New Zealand tax resident while you were overseas and show that you were intending to stay overseas for less than 183 days.
There is a 184-day test for student loan repayment obligations. At 184 days, the borrower becomes overseas-based instead of New Zealand-based. Interest is charged for all overseas-based borrowers.
A borrower who has a student loan may not become overseas-based just because they are stranded outside New Zealand because of COVID-19. If a person returns to New Zealand within a reasonable time after they are no longer practically restricted in travelling, then extra days, when the borrower was unable to return home, may be disregarded.
If you're struggling to make your student loans payments, we might be able to reduce your repayment obligations. Alternatively, you can propose an instalment arrangement to suit your situation.
You can also apply for a student loan repayment deduction exemption if you're New Zealand based and:
- are studying full-time, or about to start studying
- will reasonably expect to earn under the annual repayment threshold.
Jill has a student loan but she has been overseas. She is stranded and she will be out of New Zealand for over 184 days when she is finally able to return to New Zealand. So long as Jill returns to New Zealand within a reasonable time from when she is no longer practically restricted in travelling, she may not be viewed as an overseas based borrower.
Therefore, she may not be charged interest as she would be if she was an overseas based borrower. Jill plans to return to New Zealand as soon as she is able.
Jill needs to contact IR to advise of her travel restrictions as she will need to make an application for her student loan to remain interest free.