COVID-19 updates
Home | Future students | VET Student loans

VET Student loans

As a student at South Metropolitan TAFE, you may be eligible for a Commonwealth Government loan to assist with paying your studies.

VET Student Loans are available to eligible students enrolled in specific diploma, advanced diploma, graduate certificate or graduate diploma courses. FEE-HELP loans assist eligible fee-for-service students enrolled in higher education diploma or associate degree courses.

Student Loans are income contingent loan schemes - VET Student Loans are for the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector while FEE-HELP is a scheme in the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP).

The Australian Government pays the amount of the loan direct to South Metropolitan TAFE, and you repay your loan through the Australian taxation system once you earn a wage equal to or higher than the repayment threshold. 

There is no application or loan fee for VET Student Loan government subsidised courses, however there is a loan fee of 20% for fee-for-service or commercial 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.

Eligibility requirements and further details about these schemes can be found in the sections below.

Before you apply for a VET Student Loan please ensure that you have read through the pre-enrolment information.

Eligibility requirements

You must meet the following criteria to apply for a VET Student Loan:

  • Be enrolled in an eligible course of study* with South Metropolitan TAFE. 
  • Citizenship / Residency Requirements
    • Australian Citizen,
    • Permanent Humanitarian Visa holder
    • or a New Zealand Citizen Special Category Visa holder**;
  • Educational loan entrance requirements:
    • completed an Australian Year 12 Senior Education Certificate issued from a Governing body or Agency, in Western Australia this would be your Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE), or
    • achieved a Certificate IV or higher in an Australian Qualification Framework or equivalent and this course was delivered in English, or
    • achieved an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, or
    • sit an approved Numeracy and Literacy assessment;
  • Have a Tax File Number

If you do not have a TFN you can apply for one online via the Australian Tax Office website. Please note you will be able to upload your Certificate of Application when completing your eCAF, however South Metropolitan TAFE will require your TFN by your first census date to be eligible for a loan;

  • Have a Unique Student Identifier (USI);
  • Have not exceeded your HELP loan limit;
  • have activated your electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) after your two day cooling off period and before your administrative dates;  
  • Students who are under 18 years of age will require a parent or guardian to sign the Commonwealth’s request for a VET Student Loan – Parental Consent form.

Evidence of legal parent / guardianship must be provided at time of loan lodgement. For example, birth certificate of the parent / guardian or a Medicare card that consists of the parent and child's name.

For more information please refer to the Commonwealth website.

* Course eligibility is set by the Federal Government and limited to courses that have a high national priority, meet industry needs, contribute to addressing skills shortages and align with strong employment outcomes.

**For New Zealand Citizen eligibility requirements please visit Study Assist​.

Literacy and numeracy requirements

If you wish to apply for a VET Student Loan to pay for some or all of your course fees, you will need to satisfy the requirements for literacy and numeracy.

If you cannot provide a copy of your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education from an agency or authority of an Australian State or Territory or a Certificate IV higher in an Australian Qualification delivered in English you need to attain an “Exit Level 3” or higher in the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) Commonwealth approved assessment test in reading and numeracy.


Sitting a VET Student Loans literacy and numeracy test - BKSB

BKSB (basic key skills builder) is an online assessment tool that provides an overview of your learning strengths and determines your english and maths levels. You need to achieve Exit Level 3 in both english and maths to be eligible for a VET Student Loan. 


Test conditions

The test must be done online and under fair and honest conditions supervised* at one of South Metropolitan TAFE's main campuses.

You will be allocated two hours to complete the test but you may be allocated more time if required.

You can bring a calculator, pen and paper to use for your numeracy component. Alternatively at points throughout the numeracy test tools will become available to assist with the test.

Accessing the internet and mobile phones are not allowed. 

*Exemptions may apply in special circumstances as determined by the college

Completion of the test

We will endeavour to contact you via phone or by email your test results for your records within 24 hours of you completing the test. We will also discuss your options and the next step in applying for your loan. 

How to book a literacy and numeracy test

* Do not use this form if you are applying for a place in the Diploma of Nursing. If you are a new or late applicant for the Diploma of Nursing and have not already been offered a place in the course, please contact TAFE Admissions about your eligibility requirements.

For information on how to log on please see the help guide below.

Application process

Getting ready to apply

You can express your interest in applying for a VET Student Loan at any time after being offered a place in your course, however you will not be issued with an official loan agreement (Electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form, or eCAF) until you have enrolled into your course. (This is done either on campus or via our enrolment call centre).

Applying for a VET Student Loan does not act as an acceptance of an offer of a place in your course.

You may choose to wait until you have enrolled into your course before commencing the loan application process, however this may reduce the amount of time you have to finalise your application depending on your earliest census dates.

Before lodging your application, you will need you have your citizenship and educational attainment documents (and Parental Consent Form if applicable) ready to upload or deliver to a campus. Please note that documents supplied to TAFE Admissions to apply for your course are not made available to VET Student Loan staff, so you may need to provide copies of documents that have been supplied in previous processes.

Providing the correct supporting documentation is the responsibility of the student. Due to the volume of applications received, applications are assessed in the order in which they are received and delays caused by insufficient documentation are the responsibility of the student, and may result in some or all fees being ineligible to be placed on a loan if administrative or census dates are not met.

Applying for a VET Student Loan


1. Documentation 

Students will need to provide the following documents with their application.

Australian citizenship requirements: 

  • Current Australian Passport  
  • Australian Citizenship Certificate
  • Full Australian Birth Certificate*

*Students born on or after 20 of August 1986 with both parents born outside of Australia will need to provide proof of one or both parents Australian Citizenship Certificate on or before their date of birth. 

New Zealand citizenship requirements:

  • Meet the Commonwealth's eligibility requirements** 
  • Provide current New Zealand passport or provide full birth certificate 
  • Complete a statutory declaration, stating you meet the Commonwealth's requirements 
  • Provide an Immigration Movement Records form prior to the course first census date 

**For New Zealand Citizen eligibility requirements please visit Study Assist.  

Permanent Humanitarian visa holder:

  • Provide current passport with humanitarian visa details

Educational loan entrance documents:

  • Australian Year 12 Senior Education Certificate issued from a governing body or agency, or
  • A Certificate IV or higher in an Australian Qualification Framework or equivalent (when the course was delivered in English), or
  • An International Baccalaureate Diploma, or
  • Sit an approved literacy and numeracy test achieving an exit level 3 or higher in both. 

Additional Identification documentation:

  • Australian Drivers License
  • Proof of Age Card
  • Medicare Card
  • Centrelink Concession card


2. Application form  

Complete the online application form by clicking on the below button. 


3. Electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) 

The information provided on your application form will be used to generate or locate an existing Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN).  

An electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) will then be issued to you. This will be emailed to students and needs to be completed and submitted after a two day cooling period from the day of enrolment and at least 5 working days prior to the first census date. Failure to submit your eCAF by this time may result in your enrolment being withdrawn. To continue in the course would require payment in full or via a payment plan for any units that are past their administrative date.


4. Submit your electronic Commonwealth Assistance (eCAF)

Once your eCAF has been submitted you will be confirmed in your course and you will be sent a Statement of Covered Fees and updated Fee Notice. This statement will have your contact details along with your course name, course estimated fees, course capping and if you will exceed your capping. How to submit an eCAF factsheet.


Administrative date, census date and Withdrawals

Administrative dates

The Unit Administrative Date for each enrolled unit falls on the 16th day prior to census date for each unit. If you are enrolling into any unit(s) that fall within 16 days of the census date, those units will be ineligible to be placed on a loan and must be paid for directly to the college. 

The Course Administrative Date falls 5 business days prior to the earliest census date for your course. This will only apply once per qualification. You should return your eCAF by this time, or your enrolment may be cancelled. Your eCAF is issued at qualification level and will activate for your course when it has been submitted to South Metropolitan TAFE.  

Census dates

Census dates are the dates you are expected to reach a minimum of 20% of study for your unit or course enrolment. Loan applications must be finalised before this time, including providing all documents, eCAFs, and for SMTAFE to have had an opportunity to issue all relevant documentation to the student on or prior to this date. 

A census date is the date that a student incurs a FEE-HELP debt (for fees) of the units undertaken.

If you have taken out a VET Student Loan you will not incur a debt if you withdraw on or before the census date. 

If you withdraw after the census date has past you will not receive a refund if you have paid upfront, you will be liable for the full debt for that unit if you have taken out a VET Student Loan, and any other outstanding fees not covered by a loan.


If you have applied for a VET Student Loan, and you withdraw from a unit or course before or on the census date, you will not incur a VET Student Loan debt for the unit or course you are withdrawing from and you will receive a full refund/re-credit on your loan.

You will incur a debt if you applied for VET Student Loan and failed to withdraw before the census date. Any up-front payments will be lost and your FEE-HELP limit will be reduced. Further information can be found on our withdrawals and refund page.

Withdrawals - special circumstances

If special circumstances apply, you may be eligible for re-credit of your FEE-HELP balance. In this case, you will need to complete and submit an Application for Refund and Re-credit of FEE-HELP balance. 

In order to be eligible to apply for special circumstances remission/re-credit, you must first satisfy ALL of the following application criteria: 

1.    You were unable to complete the requirements of the unit(s) during the study period; and
2.    You apply in writing for special circumstances remission/re-credit; and
3.    You apply within 12 months of the date you withdrew from your course(s), or if you did not withdraw from your course(s), your application must reach the VET Student Loans Team within 12 months from the last day of the study period in which you were enrolled in the course(s). These arrangements apply to both standard and non-standard study periods. 

In addition to the application criteria, you must also meet all of the following criteria:

a)    the circumstances that led to your withdrawal were beyond your control; are not a result of your action or inaction; are unusual or uncommon; 
b)    did not make their full impact on the student until on, or after, the census day for the course, or unit(s). A circumstance that first occurred before the census day may satisfy the special circumstances requirement where it worsens after that day or the full effect or magnitude does not become apparent until after that day; 
c)    made it impracticable for the you to complete the requirements for the course, or part of the course, during the course of your enrolment.


To apply for a special circumstances recredit remission, download the form on the purple button below and return to

Fee Notice & Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN)

South Metropolitan TAFE will send you a Fee Notice at least 14 days prior to your census dates and a CAN after census dates of your units have been reached. It is normal to receive more than one Fee Notice and CANs each semester if your enrolled units have different census dates. 

The Fee Notice contains information about your enrolment, any HELP debt you will incur, how much you have paid towards your fees and how much will be reported to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The CAN will also contain information about your enrolment, and the FEE-HELP debt you have incurred, how much you have paid towards your fees and how much has been reported to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Typically, a Fee Notice and CAN includes the following information:

  • Student tuition fee amounts;
  • Any up-front fees that you have paid;
  • The units for which you have received FEE-HELP or VET FEE-HELP Total debt incurred for the semester;
  • Commonwealth Higher Education Support Number (CHESSN)
  • Unique Student Identifier (USI) 

You are required to check these each time you receive a notice to ensure that your enrolment dates are correct so that we can report your details correctly to the ATO. If any changes need to be made, you must inform the Admissions Office – South Metropolitan TAFE prior to your census dates on your Fee Notice. 

If you notice any changes that need to be made once your receive your CANs you must notify Admissions Office – South Metropolitan TAFE within 14 days from the date of your CAN letter or the college will deem that you have accepted your loan liability as per the Commonwealth Assistance Notice letter. If your CAN is incorrect, you need to specify in writing which details are incorrect; and why you believe they are incorrect.

Queries can be emailed to or sent in writing to:

Student Loans - Admissions
South Metropolitan TAFE
1 Fleet Street, Fremantle WA 6160

The CAN is not an invoice and you do not need to contact the ATO about the notice. The CAN is just a notice advising you of the status of your student loan and which units have now reached census dates. The census date is when South Metropolitan TAFE finalises your enrolment. If you withdraw after census date you will have to pay fees or if you have a Student Loan, you will incur the debt as stated on your CAN.

Progressing and engagement with your VET Student Loan

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. Which will occur 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.

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.  

Frequently asked questions

What is the Student engagement and progression?

Throughout the length of your course you will be required to complete a VET Student Loan – engagement and progression form through the eCAF system. An invitation will be sent to your current email address. This is part of the Commonwealth’s increased protection for students with access to a VET Student Loan. 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.

How much can I borrow?

Loan caps will apply to all approved courses. Other than for specified exceptions, there will be three loan cap bands for 2021 $5,358, $10,717 and $16,077. A separate loan cap for the aviation training package will apply. The loan cap will be $80,388 for all courses under this package.

There is no loan fee for subsidised VET qualifications at South Metropolitan TAFE but a 20% loan fee applies to non-subsidised VET courses. You will be required to repay the loan to the Australian Government through the tax system once you reach the minimum income threshold level for repayment.

Once a student has borrowed an amount equal to the HELP limit (as indexed at that time), they will not be able to receive further VET Student Loan assistance or HELP assistance to pay their tuition fees. 

How do I repay my loan?

You have to start repaying your VET Student Loan debt through the taxation system once your repayment income is above the compulsory repayment threshold, even if you are still studying. The compulsory repayment thresholds is adjusted each year.

The compulsory repayment threshold is $46,620 for the 2020-2021 income year.
The compulsory repayment threshold is $45,881 for the 2019-20 income year. 

Your repayment income is calculated using the following amounts from your income tax return:

  • your taxable income;
  • reportable fringe benefits (reported on your payment summary);
  • total net investment loss (which includes net rental loss);
  • reportable super contributions; and
  • exempt foreign employment income amounts.

If you have an accumulated HELP debt and earn more than the minimum repayment threshold, you will have a compulsory repayment included as part of your income tax assessment.

For more information on repaying your HELP debts, including the latest Repaying Your Help Debt guide, visit the Australian Tax Office website.

How do I check my loan balance (or whether I even have a loan)?

To check whether you have a debt, confirm the amount you have borrowed or find out your loan balance, students can access their myGov account. Alternatively students can contact the Australian Tax Office on 13 28 61. 

Will I get a refund or re-credit if I withdraw?

If you have applied for a VET Student Loan, and if you withdraw from a unit or course before or on the census date, you will not incur a VET Student Loan debt for the unit or course you are withdrawing from and you will receive a full refund/re-credit on your loan.

If you withdraw from a unit or course after the census date, you may be eligible for re-credit of your FEE-HELP balance, if special circumstances apply. In this case, you will need to complete and submit an Application for Refund and Re-credit of FEE-HELP balance.

Reminder: You will incur a debt if you applied for VET Student Loan and failed to withdraw before the census date. Any up-front payments will be lost and your FEE-HELP limit will be reduced.

Can New Zealand citizens​ obtain VET Student Loans?

​The Australian Government has passed legislation to provide VET Student Loan to New Zealand citizens who are Special Category Visa (SCV) holders and meet the requisite criteria.
Note: New Zealand SCV holders are required to meet eligibility criteria. Please visit the Study Assist website for more information. 

Forms, Fact Sheets and policies
Page last updated September 22, 2020