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VET Student Loans

Important information about the VET Student Loan program

You must read the VET Student Loans Information Booklet before applying for a loan.

VET Student Loans is an Australian Government loan program, part of the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). The total amount that eligible students may borrow over their lifetime is capped by the FEE-HELP limit set by the Commonwealth. 

All loans you incur under the VET Student Loan scheme will reduce your FEE-HELP limit and the amount you have left to borrow is known as your FEE-HELP balance.    

When you take out a VET Student Loan to pay for some or all of your tuition fees, the Australian Government pays the fees to North Metropolitan TAFE on your behalf, and you incur a VET Student Loan debt (VETSL debt).  

There is no application or loan fee for VET Student Loan government subsidised courses, however there is a loan fee of 20% for commercial course VET Student Loan debts. The accumulated debt is indexed according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Indexation of your VET Student Loan debt occurs annually in accordance with the Higher Education Support Act 2003.

A VET Student Loan gives rise to a VETSL debt that continues to be a debt due to the Commonwealth until it is repaid and it may reduce your after tax wage or salary. It may also reduce your borrowing capacity until it is repaid.

You commence repaying your HELP loan to the Australian Government through the tax system once your taxable income is above the compulsory repayment threshold. This is $45,881 for the 2019-20 income year. The rate at which you repay the loan is based on your income, as you earn more you will repay a higher percentage of your taxable income towards your loan.

You may wish to seek independent financial advice before applying for a loan.

Census dates

A census date is the last day to submit an application for a VET Student Loan, this includes providing all information, submitting the eCAF and allowing North Metropolitan TAFE the opportunity to issue all relevant documentation to the student. 

At North Metropolitan TAFE we also have an administrative date. In semester 1, 2020, the administrative date is 20 February for courses with the first census date 6 March, OR 15 days before the first census date for the course. To be able to have your application assessed and approved by census date, you must aim to have your application finalised by the administrative date. 

If you miss the first census date for your course, you can apply for a VET Student Loan for your future census dates.

The fees for your course will be spread across a minimum of three fee periods and each fee period will contain at least one census date. The census dates will be set at 20 per cent of the duration of the unit or later.

You will be provided with your first census date before enrolment, with your enrolment quote. As a general guide, the census dates for different courses commencing Semester 1, 2020 are listed below. Students should check their individual enrolments in their student portal for census dates specific to their units, as these may vary.

6-month diploma 

1st Census            06/03/2020
2nd Census          10/04/2020
3rd Census           15/05/2020

12-month diploma

1st Census             06/03/2020
2nd Census          10/04/2020
3rd Census           21/08/2020
4th Census           25/09/2020

18-month diploma

1st Census             06/03/2020
2nd Census          21/08/2020
3rd Census           05/03/2021

To check the census dates for all your course units, please check the VSL Delivery Schedule.

For flexible enrolments (including continuous enrolments, RPL and shorter delivery) the census date will be calculated at 20 per cent of the duration of the unit.

A census date is also the day that you will incur a debt for the fees of any units enrolled with that census date.

If you withdraw formally from units by the census day, you will not incur a debt for those units. 

If you withdraw after the census date has passed, you will be liable for the full debt for that unit if you have taken out a VET Student Loan. Any other outstanding fees not covered by a loan will remain payable.

To formally withdraw you must submit the withdrawal form online or in person at Student Services.

Apply for a Tax File Number

To be eligible for a VET Student Loan you must provide your Tax File Number (TFN) prior to the census date.

Applications to the Australian Taxation Office for a new TFN will take time. Please ensure you apply for your TFN as early as possible.

If you have applied for a TFN, you can apply for a VET Student Loan and provide a copy of your Certificate of application for a TFN with your ID check receipt from the Australian Taxation Office or the Post Office. You must provide your TFN to us prior to your census date to access the VET Student Loan.

When we submit your HELP loan data to the government, your TFN is verified against Australian Taxation Office data. Your TFN must be verified before your census date for you to be eligible to receive the loan.

We will contact you if your TFN cannot be verified. 

Check your eligibility
Please note VET Student Loans will not be approved for students who do not meet eligibility requirements.

To be eligible for a VET Student Loan you need to meet all of the criteria listed below.

VET Student Loan eligible course

Please note VET Student Loans eligible courses and caps may be subject to changes implemented by the Australian Government in 2020.

Citizenship and residency

You must:

  • Be an Australian citizen doing at least one unit of your course in Australia, or
  • Be a permanent humanitarian visa holder who will reside in Australia for the duration of your course, or
  • Hold a New Zealand Special Category visa and meet the special eligibility requirements for New Zealand citizens:
    • First began to be usually resident in Australia at least 10 years ago, and
    • Were a child under the age of 18 with no spouse or de facto partner when you first began to be usually resident in Australia, and
    • Have been in Australia for at least:
      • A total of eight out of the past 10 years (from when you apply for the loan), and 
      • A total of 18 months out of the last two years (from when you apply for the loan).

Academic suitability

You must have:

  •  Completed your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in Australia, or 
  •  Completed a Certificate IV or higher qualification in an Australian Qualification Framework or a qualification at this level that was delivered in English, or
  •  Completed an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB) diploma, or
  • Achieved an Exit Level 3 score or higher in the Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) assessment.  BKSB® (Basic Key Skills Builder) literacy and numeracy tests are available at North Metropolitan TAFE.  If you have a diagnosed disability and need support to sit the BKSB® test, before booking your test please contact the Disability Support office (9427 1314 or to discuss your support needs. You will need to provide medical documentation outlining your diagnosis and the impact this may have on your ability to access and participate in the test.
    Book your test here: Joondalup     Perth

    BKSB® is a Commonwealth approved online assessment tool that provides an overview of your learning strengths and determines your English and mathematics levels. 

    The assessment is conducted on-campus and is supervised. You will need to bring photo ID with you. Calculators are permitted for the mathematics section, however mobile phones or any other support material are not allowed. You are allocated 2-hours to take the BKSB® test, however you can have more time if you need it. 

    Your results can be obtained at Student Services immediately after completing the assessment. Please visit Student Services to discuss your results and next steps. Your results will be kept by the college for five years and made available to the Commonwealth if requested.



You must confirm your continued engagement in your course by submitting your VET Student Loans progressions, indicating you are continuing in the course.

Loan caps and additional payments

Your loan may not cover all your fees.

Each course has a VET Student Loan course cap. This is the maximum amount you will be loaned for the course. If your fees are higher than the course cap, you will need to pay the difference to North Metropolitan TAFE once your course cap is reached. If you have accessed a VET Student Loan for your course at a different provider, you must provide your CAN notice to North Metro TAFE when you apply for the loan to have your loan cap adjusted. 

North Metropolitan TAFE will inform you when your course fees exceed the cap and when the fees are due. You can check the loan cap for your course in the indicative fees list. 

To be able to access the loan, you must have not exceeded the HELP loan limit: this is the amount you can borrow to study using one or more of these schemes: VET Student Loans, VET FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP. In 2020 the limit is $106,319.

Submit your request

Once you have all required documents, you can submit your request to apply for a VET Student Loan to cover all or part of your fees.

You may apply at any time throughout your study, however the loan can only be approved for units with a future census date. For the loan to apply to your whole course, you must submit your application before your first census date.

To apply for a VET Student Loan, you must complete the following steps.

Step 1.   Make sure you read and understand all the VET Student Loans information

You must download and read the VET Student Loans Information Booklet to ensure you are aware of your obligations under VET Student Loans.

Step 2.   Submit your eligibility evidence 


Citizenship and residency suitability 

For Australian citizens, a current passport is the preferred form of evidence. 

Providing a birth certificate issued by an Australian RBDM:

  • If you were born before 20 August 1986 a full birth certificate is enough evidence.
  • If you were born on or after 20 August 1986, your full birth certificate is enough if at least one of your parents was born in Australia before 20 August 1986. If your parent was born in Australia on or after that date, your parent’s full birth certificate is also required.

In all other cases in which a birth certificate is not enough evidence, you will need to apply for evidence of Australian citizenship by lodging a Form 119 with Home Affairs.

For eligible New Zealand citizens, a current passport is not sufficient evidence. You will need to request an International movement record to the Department of Immigration by completing the Form 1359.

Academic suitability

To sit the BKSB® test you must book your test at one of these campuses:

If you have a diagnosed disability and need support to sit the BKSB® test, before booking your test please contact the Disability Support office (9427 1314 or to discuss your support needs. You will need to provide medical documentation outlining your diagnosis and the impact this may have on your ability to access and participate in the test.



Under 18 students

You must submit a completed and signed parental consent form, or
a Centrelink income statement showing that you receive Youth Allowance at the independent rate.

Other requirements

You must submit the VET Student Loans Checklist with certified copies of your evidence or attend on campus with your original documents.

Please email if you require further assistance.

Please note All the documents need to be submitted at least 15 days before your first Census Date.
Step 3.  Submit your VET Student Loan application to the Commonwealth

If you are eligible for a VET Student Loan, we will send your request to the government via the Electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF). They will communicate with you via your personal email, and provide you with an access code and link to your eCAF.

You must complete and submit the government eCAF to be able to access the loan.

The Commonwealth Government requires that there is a two day cooling off period between when you first enrol and when you apply for a VET Student Loan. When you complete the eCAF process your enrolment can then be finalised. 

If you are requesting a loan for more than one course, you must submit one eCAF for each course.

Continuing students 

Once you have an approved loan for your course, you can add the fees for new units you enrol in for that same course. This will not happen automatically, you will need to let us know that you want to add your fees to your VET Student Loan by completing the Continuing Students with a VET Student Loan form.

This must be done at least 15 days before the first census date of your new units.

Manage your VET Student Loan

VET Student Loan Fee notice

Before each census date North Metropolitan TAFE will provide you with an invoice notice for that census date. 

It will show your units for that census date, the unit fees, any upfront payments that you might have made towards those units and the fees that are going on your loan. The VETSL debt is the debt that will be on your loan after census date.

You are required to check this notice and advise of any anomalies or errors in your enrolment, fees or contact details before the census date.

Statement of Covered Fees

When you first enrol we will also provide you with a Statement of Covered Fees. This will include the estimated cost for your course, how much is covered by the loan and if you will need to make any upfront payments.

Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN)

We will send you a Commonwealth Assistance Notice after the census day to confirm the amount of loan debt you have incurred.

You are required to check the CAN and contact within 14 days if anything in them is not correct. 

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. 

Cancel your VET Student Loan

If you no longer wish to pay your unit fees using a VET Student Loan, you must notify before the census date. If you choose to cancel your VET Student Loan, you must pay the fees for all units not covered by the VET Student Loan directly to North Metro TAFE.

Keep your contact details up to date

It is important that you inform us about changes to your contact details as we will send you important information about your VET Student Loan via your email and postal address.

VET Student Loan Progressions

The Australian Government has introduced the VET Student Loan Progression process to make sure that you are engaged in the training related to your VET Student Loan.

To continue to be eligible for a VET Student Loan, you will need to submit a VET Student Loan Progression form through the government’s eCAF system approximately every four months. Most progressions will be sent in February, June and October. 

During each VET Student Loan Progression period:

  •  An email will be sent to your personal email account with a link to the VET Student Loan Progression form.
  •  You have two weeks to complete the form after you receive the email notification.
Please note If you do not complete the VET Student Loan Progression form, you may be unable to continue accessing the VET Student Loan to pay your fees. This means that you will need to pay your tuition fees directly to North Metropolitan TAFE if you want to continue studying your course.
Re-crediting of FEE HELP balance

Refund due to withdrawal on or before census date 

A refund of tuition fees or remission of debt is appropriate when students enrolled in Diploma or Advanced Diploma withdraw from their units or course on or before the census date for the units. Students will receive a refund of fees paid for the semester and/or the student will not incur a Commonwealth VETSL debt. 

Refund after census date 

In the event of a student withdrawing after census date for that unit of study or qualification, no refund of fees will be applicable and/or the student will still be liable for a Commonwealth VETSL debt.

Special circumstances 

Under Part 6, section 68 of the VET Student Loans Act, students who withdraw after the census date for the units, may apply for a re-credit of their VETSL debt balance under special circumstances, which may be:

  • A serious illness resulting in extended absences from classes
  • Injury or disability that prevented the student from completing their program
  • Other exceptional circumstances.

Please note  Pre-existing illnesses may exclude the student from being considered for a full refund. 

North Metropolitan TAFE will re-credit the VET Student Loan balance if it is satisfied that the special circumstances that applied to the student were: 

  1. Beyond the student’s control;
  2. Did not make their full impact on the student until on or after, the census date; and 
  3. Made it impracticable for the student to complete the requirements for the unit during the period which the student undertook, or was to undertake, the unit. 

Find more information on re-crediting of VETSL debt on our Refund Policy and VET Student Loans Policy.

Fair treatment

To ensure fair treatment for all students, North Metro TAFE has policies and procedures in place to cover a range of student matters, including enrolments, admissions, withdrawals, refunds, and access and equity.

Complaints and feedback 

Your feedback is welcomed on the services provided by North Metropolitan TAFE, the conduct of our people, our learners and any services provided by a third party on behalf of the college.

Informal resolution is encouraged before commencing formal action and students are encouraged to discuss any concerns regarding their fees or loan with student services staff initially.  Should formal action be required, students can submit a Complaint form online or in person at Student Services.

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome and your complaint is specifically related to a VET Student Loan, you can contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman. Further information at: VET Student Loans Ombudsman

Tuition assurance

If North Metropolitan TAFE ceases to provide a course in which you are enrolled, North Metro TAFE will ensure that you are offered an enrolment in a similar course of study.

Where there is no suitable replacement course for a student, North Metropolitan TAFE will notify the student that he or she may apply to North Metropolitan TAFE to have their FEE-HELP balance re-credited for the affected parts of the original course.

More information can be found in the VET Student Loans TAFE Tuition Assurance Exemption Statement

Assistance and more information

If you need more assistance understanding VET Student Loans or have a question, you can:
  •   Contact Student Services at your campus
  •   E

Please note Students with a disability who require assistance with the VET Student Loan application process should contact us on 9427 1314 or to arrange an appointment.


Page last updated February 26, 2020