VET Student Loans

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.



VET FEE-HELP for existing students

You can continue to study under your VET FEE-HELP loan if you're an existing student and you'll finish your course before the end of 2017. If you're not going to finish in 2017, your college will contact you to discuss your options.

For all continuing VET FEE-HELP students, the Commonwealth Government has a new "opt in" process:

  • you'll be contacted by mail or email to confirm that you wish to continue your studies
  • you'll then need to complete and submit a form to the Commonwealth Government
  • you'll need to provide TAFE NSW with a copy of your loan confirmation letter (not your "opt in" email).

For more information please read our VET FEE-HELP page, contact your campus/college or refer to the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training website

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:

  • defer all your tuition fees (up to the loan cap limit)
  • pay some of your tuition fees upfront and defer the balance.

Your loan is repaid through the Australian tax system. When you reach the minimum income threshold for repayment. 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.

For more information about the fees for Government subsidised training places please visit Smart and Skilled - Prices, fees and subsidies in 2017.

Centrelink benefits do not affect your eligibility or the loan amount you can access. Fee concessions are not available for TAFE NSW fee-for-service courses.

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.*
* Holders of other permanent visas and temporary visas are NOT eligible for a VET Student Loan

You must also:

  • have a tax file number or be applying for one
  • have a Unique Student Identifier (USI)
  • 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.

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 the USI website 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.

You can view the commonwealth Government’s VET Student Loans (Courses and Loan Caps) Determination, available on the Commonwealth Department of Education website, to find out if your course is eligible.

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.

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
  • if approved, TAFE NSW will be advised by the Commonwealth and your enrolment can be finalised.

As with any loan you take, you must understand the terms and conditions before you make a commitment. 

Please read the VET Student Loan information available on the Commonwealth Department of Education website and consider seeking independent financial advice.

Under 18

There are no age restrictions to apply for a VET Student Loan. For students who are under 18, your parent or guardian must co-sign your loan request. When you apply online:

  • you will need to print your application
  • have your parent or guardian sign the application
  • then take this to your college.

Your parent or guardian will not be responsible for making loan repayments and it will not affect their credit rating. You will begin making repayments once your income reaches the minimum payment threshold.

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. 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.

Literacy and numeracy assessment

When you apply for a VET Student Loan (VSL), you need to sit a test if:

  • you do not have Year 12 or equivalent, OR
  • you do not have a Certificate IV qualification or above.

If you already have qualifications at the above level – and have evidence to show this – there is no test. You can simply scan and email copies of your qualifications to or alternatively you can take them to Customer Service at your college of enrolment.

What is the test about?

The test is called the CSPA, or Core Skills Profile for Adults test. It is to show that you have the literacy and numeracy skills required for your course. It’s also a way we can ensure people applying for VSLs have all the support they need, and are getting education that best suits them.

The CSPA test is sometimes referred to as the ‘ACER’ test because it is administered by ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research).

What do I have to do next?

When you apply for your VSL, you’ll need to contact your local TAFE’s Customer Service Centre to register to take the CSPA test.

Once you register, you will be sent an email from ACER with a link to the test.

Customer Service will be in touch with your results.

Where do I sit the CSPA test?

You take the CSPA test online from your home or anywhere with internet access. You can also come into one of our Customer Service Centres and take the test on a computer there.

What happens if I don’t pass the test?

Don’t worry. You can sit the CSPA test again. Customer Service will contact you about your results. We will also see if you need any other support or assistance getting prepared so you can pass the test when you’re ready.

What support is there?

Support is available at each TAFE college through the Foundations Studies section. This support might be in the form of a friendly chat, or working through some of the questions you might see in the test.

We can also talk to you about other TAFE NSW courses that might be a good fit for you as you build your learning skills.

If you are concerned about your language, literacy and numeracy skills, contact the college where your course is located and ask to be connected with the Foundations Studies Head Teacher, who can give you advice about the test and discuss any support you need.

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 – Pathways 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.

Lifetime loan limit

The lifetime loan limit is the total amount you can incur in your lifetime under any Commonwealth 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. 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.

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 2016-17 is $54,869.

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 - Study Assist website

Further information about VET Student Loans, including Frequently Asked Questions and loan limit information is available at the Study Assist website and the Department of Education and Training 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 matters

TAFE NSW undertakes to deal with grievances promptly. You are entitled to raise any concerns about your academic results or appeal a result.

In the first instance, you should talk to your teacher for more information about the appeals process.

Grievance procedures for non-academic matters

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.

You may report your grievance to a teacher, counsellor or other support officer. See the Non-academic grievance procedures.

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 theVET Student Review Procedures.

Tuition assuance

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:

Personal information

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

Legal information about VET Student Loans

Sydney TAFE partners with other education institutions to deliver and assess selected courses with VET Student Loans available to students. They are:

  • Schofields Flying Club Limited (period 1 January 2017 to until 30 June 2017).

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