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VET Student Loan


Explore your fees and payment options. Learn about the VET Student Loan Program and check your eligibility.

What is a VET Student Loan?

From 1 January 2017, the Commonwealth VET Student Loans program will replace the existing 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.

VET FEE-HELP for existing students - update for 2018

Students who completed the 2017 VET FEE-HELP “opt in” process were approved to continue their studies under the VET FEE-HELP loan program until 31 December 2017

Students who have not completed their course and have census dates in 2018, can still apply to the Department of Education and Training for an extension of their VET FEE-HELP loan into 2018 until the 31st January 2018. If you have not received an invitation to “opt in”, please contact your college of enrolment immediately.

Students must meet the ‘exceptional circumstances’ criteria in order to be eligible for this extension.

What do you need to do?

  • You will receive an initial email from TAFE NSW (if you have census dates in 2018 and you have successfully opted in to continue your VET FEE-HELP loan in 2017)

  • You will receive an invitation email from the Department of Education and Training which will provide you with information regarding the application process and a unique passkey, which is required to access the VET FEE-HELP Grandfathering 2018 Extension Application Form (via the Commonwealth eCAF1 system).

  • You must complete and submit the application form online

  • You must provide your TAFE NSW College with a copy of the completed form.You will receive this by email, once you have successfully submitted your online application.

The passkey is valid for 14 days from the date of issue. You should aim to complete the online application process during this time. If you are experiencing difficulties, you should contact your college as soon as possible.

If you do not complete the VET FEE-HELP Grandfathering 2018 Extension Application Form you will not be eligible to access a VET FEE-HELP loan to pay your course tuition fees in 2018.

For more information please contact your TAFE NSW college or refer to the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training website.

1eCAF – electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form

How does it work?

The VET Student Loan program allows eligible students to defer tuition fees for approved diplomas or advanced diplomas.

You can either:

  • repay all your tuition loan fees (up to the loan cap limit) when your income reaches the repayment threshold

  • pay some of your tuition loan 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.

Am I eligible?

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.*


You must also:

  • have a tax file number or be applying for one
  • 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 (that is, assessed as academically suitable to undertake a high level vocational qualification)
  • have a Commonwealth Higher Education Support Number (CHESSN)
  • 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 Commonwealth loan application online form (eCAF) by the first census day no less than two business days after enrolling (see How do I apply)
  • comply with ongoing Commonwealth email requests to log on to complete their online student engagement form to confirm that you are a genuine student, continuing to study and 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). In 2017, the lifetime loan limit is $100,879 for most students (2018 to be advised). Students can view their loan obligations by logging into myUniAssist on the Study Assist website. You will need your Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN) to log in. 

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 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 is allocated to all students when they first access a Commonwealth loan. Any Commonwealth student loan you take is recorded against your CHESSN. If you already have a CHESSN, please supply that number.

New Zealand citizens

The residency requirements for New Zealand citizens on a Special Category Visa are:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Is a VET Student Loan available for my course?

VET Student Loans are available for full-time, part-time and online study.

Click here (PDF, 300Kb) to 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, 2018

North Region (PDF, 10.5 MB)

South Region (PDF, 5.6 MB)

Sydney Region (PDF, 17.4 MB)

West Region (PDF, 5 MB)

Western Sydney Region (PDF, 6.7 MB)

TAFE Digital (PDF, 5.7 MB)

SEMESTER 2, 2017

North Region (PDF, 10.5 MB)

South Region (PDF, 5.6 MB)

Sydney Region (PDF, 17.4 MB)

West Region (PDF, 5 MB)

Western Sydney Region (PDF, 6.7 MB)

OTEN (PDF, 5.7 MB)

How do I apply?

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
  • the Commonwealth will then email your logon details and password to access the online loan application
  • you will need to provide your 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.
  • your loan application 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 StudyAssist, the Commonwealth Department of Education 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 Commonwealth Department of Education 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 Commonwealth Department of Education 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.

Student Entry Procedure

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 on the TAFE NSW website.

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 4 or above. You may provide a transcript from your previous provider or a transcript from the national USI register (for qualifications attained from 2015). If it is a TAFE NSW qualification, you just need to tell us when and where you studied, or
  • undertake an approved literacy and numeracy assessment and be competent at Exit Level 3 or above in reading and numeracy. Your college will assist you through the process to undertake this assessment if required. There is no cost to you.

Credit transfer

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.

How will my course fees be charged?

Fees for courses eligible for VET Student Loans are charged by Units of Study. Your course will have a 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 Invoice Notice 14 days before each census day, indicating your fees and census dates. 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 a few 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.

How do I pay back the loan?

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 2017-18 is $55,874.

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.

More information

For a summary of the important information you need to know, read or download the VET Student Loans – Frequently asked questions factsheet. Or go to the Commonwealth Study Assist website.

Rights and Responsibilities

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:

Fair treatment

To ensure fair treatment for students, TAFE NSW has policies on a range of issues including student selection, entry requirements, assessment and equal opportunity.

Grievance procedures for academic and non-acedemic matters

TAFE NSW undertakes to deal with grievances promptly. You are entitled to raise any concerns about your academic results or appeal a result. Further information can be found on the Student Rights and Responsibilities page.

You may raise a concern or grievance for a range of non-academic matters, including harassment, vilification, discrimination, misuse of personal information, financial matters and course applications.

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 NSW VET Student Loans Ombudsman on 1300 362 072

Withdrawals and Refunds

If you choose to withdraw, 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 loan.

You must withdraw in writing by completing the appropriate withdrawal form:

The loan amount you incur will depend on the timing of your withdrawal. There are no penalties if you withdraw 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.

Students also have the right to apply for a review of a decision not to re-credit a loan balance. See the VET Student Review Procedures.

Tuition assurance

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, TAFE NSW will:

Please note, the Commonwealth Department of Education is implementing interim VET Student Loan Tuition Assurance measures in 2018. Further information and a revised Statement of VET Tuition Assurance will be published when available.

Personal information

When you enrol at TAFE NSW, the collection, storage, use and disclosure of any personal information you provide are protected by legislation.

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