VET Student Loans
VET Student Loans
Special Loan fee exemption – (COVID 19)
The Australian Government has announced that the VET Student Loans fee exemption (for full-fee paying students) which was applied as part of the COVID 19 Higher Education Relief Package, will cease on 30 June 2021.
The 20% VET Student Loan fee for full fee-paying students will be automatically applied to all census days from 1 July 2021 onwards.
The loan fee exemption for Higher Education FEE-HELP students has been extended to 31 December 2021. This exemption will continue for FEE-HELP debts incurred until 31 December 2021. The loan fee exemption will be automatically applied and will be reflected on the students HELP debt records with the Australian Taxation Office. The loan fee may still appear on FEE-HELP Commonwealth Assistance Notices (CANs) issued by TAFE NSW; however, the loan fee will be exempted as per the details above (subject to legislative amendments).
Explore your fee and payment options, learn about the VET Student Loan program and check your eligibility.
From 1 January 2017, the Commonwealth VET Student Loans program replaced the VET FEE-HELP loan program.
This Commonwealth Government program allows you to access loans for courses that:
- have a high national priority
- meet industry needs
- contribute to addressing skills shortages
- lead to employment outcomes.
The program also features loan caps for course loans. This means if your fees are above the loan cap, you will need to pay the difference. Most TAFE NSW students will not be affected by loan caps, but if you are, you will be advised of this during your enrolment. Please note, that loan caps are indexed annually in accordance with the VET Student Loans Act 2016.
The VET Student Loans program allows eligible students to repay their tuition fees for any approved diplomas or advanced diplomas (see Is a VET Student Loan available for my course?).
You can either:
- repay all your tuition fees (up to the loan cap limit) when your income reaches the repayment threshold
- pay some of your tuition fees upfront and repay the balance when your income reaches the repayment threshold.
Your loan is repaid through the Australian tax system when you reach the minimum income threshold for repayment. The minimum income threshold for repayment is set by the Commonwealth each year and is published on Study Assist in the VET Student Loans information booklet. There is a loan fee of 20% for full fee-paying students. There is no loan fee for eligible students in some NSW Government subsidised (Smart and Skilled) training places.
You must be aware that your loan remains a personal debt until it is repaid, and it may reduce your take-home (after tax) wage and your borrowing capacity. You may wish to seek independent financial advice before applying.
For more information about the fees for Government subsidised training places, please visit Smart and Skilled - Prices, fees and subsidies. Centrelink benefits do not affect your eligibility or the loan amount you can access. Fee concessions are not available for Diploma and above courses. However, fee exemptions may be available for eligible students in a Smart and Skilled place. Please contact your campus/college for further information or refer to fees information.
To be eligible, you must either:
- be an Australian citizen, or
- hold an eligible permanent humanitarian visa and usually reside in Australia, or
- be a New Zealand citizen on Special Category Visa (SCV subclass 444) who meets the long term residency requirements.*
* Holders of other permanent visas and temporary visas are NOT eligible for a VET Student Loan
You must also:
- have a tax file number (TFN) or be applying for one. The personal details of your TFN with the ATO, must match the personal details you have provided to TAFE NSW, for example your name and date of birth (see Commonwealth TFN Student Fact Sheet)
- have a Unique Student Identifier (USI)
- intend to undertake your course primarily in Australia
- meet the academic suitability requirements of the VET Student Loans Student Entry Procedure (PDF, 291KB) (that is, assessed as academically suitable to undertake a high level vocational qualification)
- not have exceeded your lifetime Commonwealth student loan limit, which is set each year by the Commonwealth
- have read the VET Student Loans information booklet.
- have given any requested documentation to TAFE NSW and submitted the electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) online by the first census day no less than two business days after enrolling (see How do I apply)
- comply with ongoing Commonwealth engagement and progression requests to log on to complete their online student engagement form to confirm that you are a genuine student, continuing to study and the progress in your course. You will get these requests two or three times a year, depending on how long your course is. If you do not complete the form and survey within the required time, you may be ineligible to continue accessing VET Student Loans to pay for the remainder of your course tuition fees.
Lifetime Loan Limit
The lifetime loan limit is the total amount you can incur in your lifetime under any Commonwealth HELP student loan scheme – whether it is Higher Education FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP or a VET Student Loan. It is indexed each year, in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). For 2021, the HELP loan limit is $108,232 for most students. Students can view their loan obligations by logging into myHELPbalance on the Study Assist website. You will need your Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN) to log in.
Renewable HELP Balance
Your HELP balance is renewable. Any compulsory or voluntary repayments starting from the 2019-20 income year will top up your HELP balance. These repayments will be applied to your HELP balance from 1 July 2020 onwards, after you have submitted your tax return to the ATO. Repayments can be re-borrowed in the future, up to the current HELP loan limit.
What is a Unique Student Identifier (USI)?
The Commonwealth requires all students studying in a nationally recognised training course to have a USI. If you already have one, please ensure you use this same USI whenever you enrol for any training. If you don't have a USI, go to https://www.usi.gov.au/ to register before you apply to enrol, or you can apply as part of your enrolment.
What is a Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN)?
A CHESSN was allocated to all students as a primary student identifier when they first accessed a Commonwealth Loan prior to 2021. For new students (from 2021), the CHESSN has been replaced by the USI and will be the primary student identifier moving forward.
New Zealand Citizens
The residency requirements for New Zealand citizens on a Special Category Visa are:
- You first began living in Australia at least 10 years before applying for a loan, and at that time, were a child under 18 years of age and did not have a spouse or de-facto partner; and
- You have been in Australia for at least eight of the 10 years immediately prior to applying and at least 18 months of the last two years.
You will need to provide evidence of your eligibility to TAFE NSW before requesting a VET Student Loan.
VET Student Loans are available for full-time, part-time and online study.
View the TAFE NSW VET Student Loan Approved Course List. Your TAFE NSW college can also provide you with a list of available courses.
If course prices are above the maximum loan a student may borrow, other payment arrangements are available. You will be advised of these when you enquire.
VET Student Loan Tuition Fees are published as required under the VET Student Loans Act 2016 and are regularly updated. You can view the schedule of VET Tuition Fees by region:
SEMESTER 1, 2021
SEMESTER 2, 2020
A VET Student Loan is an agreement between you and the Commonwealth Government.
To apply for a VET Student loan:
- you must meet all the loan eligibility requirements
- if you are accepted into a course, TAFE NSW will advise the Commonwealth that you wish to apply for a loan
- the Commonwealth will email you a passkey to access the electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) online
- you will need to provide your valid Tax File Number (TFN), so have it handy when you log on to the online form. If you don't have a TFN, you can apply at most Australia Post outlets. A valid Tax File Number means that the details you provide to TAFE NSW must match those held with the Australian Tax Office. If you provide an invalid Tax File Number, you will not be able to access a VET Student Loan for your tuition fees. Check your details are correct by logging into your MyGov account prior to applying for a loan.
- your loan application (eCAF) is separate to your enrolment with TAFE NSW. The Commonwealth Government requires that there is a two day cooling off period between your enrolment and applying for a loan.
- the census day is the last day you can apply for a loan for the fees for that period, so make sure you complete your application promptly.
As with any loan you take, you must understand the terms and conditions before you make a commitment. You must read the VET Student Loan information available on Study Assist, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website for students and consider seeking independent financial advice.
During your study, you may be contacted again by the Commonwealth to confirm your engagement and progression in your course and confirm that you wish to continue to use your VET Student Loan to pay your tuition fees for the course. It is important that you advise TAFE NSW if any of your personal or contact details change during your study. Further information regarding the VET Student Loan engagement and progression process is available on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website. If you do not complete the engagement and progression process, you will not be able to continue access to a VET Student Loan for your tuition fees.
There are no age restrictions to apply for a VET Student Loan. For students who are under 18, you must complete one of the following requirements:
- your parent or guardian must sign the Commonwealth's parental consent form for your loan. This is available from your college or on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website. You must provide this form to your college before you can apply for a loan. OR
- if you are receiving Youth Allowance on the basis that you are independent, you must provide your Centrelink Income Statement noting your independent assessment.
Your parent or guardian will not be responsible for making loan repayments and it will not affect their credit rating.
All students wishing to apply for a Commonwealth VET Student Loan must be assessed for academic suitability to undertake a high level VET qualification. This is aimed at ensuring you have the skills and knowledge to succeed in your course.
Academic assessment is in addition to any other entry requirements for your course, or any other additional selection criteria. Refer to the VET Student Loans Student Entry Procedure (PDF, 291KB).
To be assessed as academically suitable, you must either:
- provide a copy of your senior secondary certificate of education (that has been awarded by an Australian authority or agency), or
- provide evidence of attainment of an Australian Qualification Framework qualification at Certificate IV or above. You may provide a transcript from your previous provider (or a transcript from the national USI register for qualifications attained from 2015) or evidence of an approved Australian Government assessed overseas qualification. If it is a TAFE NSW qualification, let us know where and when you studied, or
- undertake an approved literacy and numeracy assessment and be competent at Exit Level 3 (working at level 4) or above. Your college will assist you through the process to undertake this assessment if required. There is no cost to you.
If you have completed previous studies, you could be eligible for reduced fees. You should let TAFE NSW know as soon as possible if you have experience in the area you are studying and think you may qualify for RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning). You can also discuss this with your teacher before you enrol.
Completing a high level qualification with TAFE NSW provides a great pathway to many university degrees. Find out more about getting credit where credit's due – TAFE to University.
Fees for courses eligible for VET Student Loans are charged by Units of Study. Your course will have at least three Units of Study and your payments will be spread across the duration of your course. Each Unit of Study has a census day, set at no less than 20% into the Unit of Study.
You will be sent an VET Student Loan Fee Notice 14 days before each census day, indicating your fees and census days. Your debt is incurred on the day after the census day. After a census day has passed, TAFE NSW will also send you a Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN) for that Unit of Study. The CAN will provide you with information about your debt, including the loan fee if applicable. If you believe your CAN is incorrect, you should contact your college immediately.
For some courses, there may be a gap between the course fee and the loan cap that the Commonwealth will allow for your course. You will be advised of this when you enquire, and also about other payment options that may be available. You must apply for a loan and pay any gap fee prior to the census date in order to finalise your payment for that Unit of Study.
You repay your loan through the tax system when your income is above the minimum repayment threshold. Repayment thresholds are adjusted each year to reflect changes in average weekly earnings. The minimum repayment income threshold for 2020-21 is $46,620.
A VET Student Loan is a personal debt obligation that can affect your credit rating and have wage and tax repayment implications. From 1 July 2017, all existing and future debtors from any Commonwealth student loan program who move overseas must make compulsory HELP repayments. If you are living overseas and earning an income that exceeds the minimum repayment threshold, you will be required to make compulsory repayments towards your debt. Please refer to the ATO website for more information.
For more information regarding Commonwealth loan repayment thresholds, please visit the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.
For a summary of the important information you need to know, read or download the VET Student Loans – Frequently asked questions factsheet. Or visit the Department of Education, Skills and Employment and the Study Assist websites.
If you are considering applying for a VET Student Loan, you should familiarise yourself with your obligations by reading the VET Student Loan information booklet.
Further information is available at:
To ensure fair treatment for students, TAFE NSW has policies on a range of issues including student selection, entry requirements, assessment and equal opportunity. Further information can be found on the Student Rights and Responsibilities page and the TAFE NSW VET Student Loans Policy.
You may raise a concern or grievance for a range of matters including academic results, harassment, vilification, discrimination, misuse of personal information, financial matters, course application and enrolment. Complaints to TAFE NSW are managed in accordance with TAFE NSWs Complaint Management Policy. In the first instance, you could speak with a teacher, counsellor or any administration staff. They may be able to resolve your complaint or provide you with a suggestion or Complaints Form. Otherwise, you can make a complaint by submitting the TAFE NSW Complaint Form online.
If you are still not satisfied with the outcome and your complaint is specifically related to a VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loan, you can contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman - VET Student Loans on 1300 362 072.
If you choose to withdraw or defer, you may be entitled to a refund of any up-front payment you've made, or re-credit of your loan balance if you have taken a Commonwealth Student Loan.
You must withdraw or defer in writing by completing the VET Student Loans Withdrawal & Deferral Application form.
The loan amount you incur will depend on the timing of your withdrawal or deferral. There are no penalties if you withdraw or defer on or before the census day. However, once a census day has passed, the loan amount for the Unit of Study is incurred.
In some special circumstances, you may apply to have your debt reversed by completing the Application to re-credit a HELP balance form within 12 months of the census day of the Unit of Study/Part of a Course.
Students also have the right to apply for a review of a decision not to re-credit a loan balance. See the VET Student Loans Student Review Procedure.
If TAFE NSW ceases to provide a course in which you are enrolled, TAFE NSW will ensure that you are offered enrolment in a similar course of study. Alternatively, you will be provided a refund of any upfront payments or a re-credit to your loan balance for any units of study (due to TAFE NSW ceasing to offer that course or a suitable alternative option).