VET Student Loans | Australian Institute of Family Counselling

VET Student Loans

VET Student Loans

Explore your fee and payment options, learn about the VET Student Load program and check your eligibility.

What is a VET Student Loan?

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. Currently loan caps do not affect our students, but for more information, check our fee schedules. Loan caps are indexed annually in accordance with the VET Student Loans Act 2016.

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. These 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; and
  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.

(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 aifc (e.g., name and date of birth.
  • have 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, 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. Your USI details must match all details given to aifc (e.g., last name).
  • intend to undertake your course primarily in Australia (and/or living in Australia while studying)
  • meet the academic suitability requirements (assessed as academically suitable to undertake a Diploma level or higher vocational qualification). 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 registerfor qualifications attained from 2015) or evidence of an approved Australian Government assessed overseas qualification, or
  • undertake an approved literacy and numeracy (LLN) assessment and be competent at Exit Level 3 (working at level 4) or above. Please notify us and we will assist you through the process to undertake this assessment if required. There is no cost to you.
  • have a Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN) – aifc will arrange this for you. 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.
  • 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 all requested documentation to aifc and submitted an electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form(eCAF) online before the first census day no less than two business days after enrolling. aifc will arrange the eCAF for you (see “How do I apply?”).
  • comply with ongoing Commonwealth engagement and progression requests to complete online student engagement forms to confirm that you are a genuine student and the progress in your course. You will get these requests two or three times a year, depending on course duration. 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.
What is the lifetime loan limit?

The lifetime loan limit is the total debt 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 CHESSN to log in. 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. It is your responsibility to ensure you have not exceeded your loan limit.

How do I apply?

A VET Student Loan is an agreement between you and the Commonwealth Government and is separate to your enrolment with aifc.

To apply for a VET Student loan:

  • you must meet all the loan eligibility requirements as stated
  • once you are accepted into a course, aifc 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 form (check your spam folder!)
  • you may need to have your Tax File Number (TFN) handy when you log on to the online form. If you don’t have a TFN, you can apply at most Australia Post outlets. Details you provide to aifc 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 accountprior to applying for a loan.
  • the Commonwealth Government requires that there is a two-day cooling off period between your enrolment and applying for a loan.
  • ensure you complete your application promptly as it needs to be done before the first census date.

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 (DESE) website for students and may 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 aifc 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.

Under 18:

There are no age restrictions to apply for a VET Student Loan. Students under 18 must meet 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 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.

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 between 2 – 5 Units of Study per term (depending on the course duration chosen). Each Unit of Study has a census day, set at no less than 20% into the Unit of Study. For census and term dates, click here, then look under Accredited Study>Student Information.

You will be sent a 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, aifc will also send you a Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN) for that Unit of Study, usually 28 days after census day. 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 us immediately.

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 2020-21 is $46,620. We recommend advising your employer that you have a HELP debt (if relevant).

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.

More information, your rights and responsibilities

For a summary of important information you need to know visit the Department of Education, Skills and Employment and the Study Assist websites. You should familiarise yourself with your obligations by reading the VET Student Loans Information booklet.

Grievance Procedures

To ensure fair treatment for students, aifc has policies on a range of issues. Further information can be found on the Student Forms, Policies and procedures webpage.

If you are not satisfied with an aifc outcome and your complaint is specifically related to VET Student Loan, you can contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman – VET Student Loans on 1300 362 072.

Withdrawals or other changes to your enrolment

If you choose to withdraw from a course, 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. Click on Student re-credit procedures.

You must withdraw or make any other changes to your enrolment by completing a Change of Enrolment form.

The loan debt you incur will depend on the timing of your withdrawal or enrolment changes. There are no penalties if you withdraw on or before the census day. However, once a census day has passed, the loan debt for the Unit of Study is incurred.

In some special circumstances, you may apply to have your debt reversed by completing a Special circumstances application form. This form should be completed in agreeance with our policies and procedures as mentioned.

Tuition assurance

If aifc ceases to provide a course in which you are enrolled, 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 aifc ceasing to offer that course or a suitable alternative option). Also refer to our Statement of Tuition Assurance.

Personal Information

When you enrol at aifc, the collection, storage, use and disclosure of any personal information you provide are protected by our privacy policy.

VET Student Loans