The chair of the Association of Pasifika Staff in Tertiary Education in New Zealand says government policy lacks flexibility for economically disadvantaged Pacific students.
Tapeni Fa'alogo says students from low-decile schools are disadvantaged before they even reach tertiary education.
The achievement rates of Pacific students in tertiary education, many of whom come from low-decile schools, have barely changed in the last 15 years according to the Tertiary Education Commission.
Mr Fa'alogo says that's due to financial pressures.
He says it's unfair that the location of students who live at home, isn't considered when student allowances are calculated.
"A student that lives in Mt Eden and goes to Auckland Grammar, gets the benefit of high-decile. And then when they get to come to university, it only costs them five dollars. Now we have a student that lives in Manurewa, goes to a low-decile school out there, comes to the university of Auckland for instance, and it costs them twice as much just to be on campus."