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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.


Eligibility requirements

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

  • Be an:
    - Australian Citizen*,
    - a Permanent Humanitarian Visa holder
    - or a New Zealand Citizen Special Category Visa holder**;
  • Have not exceeded your FEE-HELP limit;
  • Be enrolled in an eligible course of study with South Metropolitan TAFE and:
    - have activated your electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) after your two day cooling off period and before your administrative dates;
  • Provide evidence of loan entrance requirements by providing one of the following: 
    - 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 and this course was delivered in English, or
    - sit an approved Numeracy and Literacy assessment;
  • Have a Tax File Number with matching Name, Date of Birth and Address with the Australian Tax File Office. If your details are not correct with the ATO you will be unable to access a VET Student Loan. You can check your details by logging onto your myGov Account. 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 ID;
  • 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. N.B: Evidence of legal guardianship must be provided at time of loan application;
  • Confirm your engagement and progression to continue access to VET Student Loan throughout your course;
  • Read and understand the VET Student Loans booklet which can be found on the Department of Education and Training website.  

For more information please refer to our student checklist and visit the Commonwealth website.

* please note Students born on or after 20 August 1986 will need to provide a copy of their parent’s Australian Citizenship certificate or their parents birth certificate providing they were born in Australian on or before 20 August 1986.

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

^A TFN must be provided to SM TAFE as soon as possible or your student loan may be declined.

Eligible Courses

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 eligible courses, fees and course capping in 2019.

Administrative date and census date

The administrative date for each enrolled unit falls on the 16th day prior to census date. This is the final date that your eCAF can be submitted to be eligible for your VET Student Loan.  

For example, if the census date for your first unit is 24th February 2019, then the Administrative date will be 8th February 2019.

Census dates are the dates you are expected to reach a minimum of 20% of study for your unit or course enrolment. In order for SM TAFE to approve your loan, you must have completed your loan application, supply all documents and activate your eCAF on or before your administrative 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 passed; you will not receive a refund if you have paid upfront; and you will be liable for the full debt for that unit if you have taken out a VET Student Loan.

Application process

1. Confirm your enrolment

You will need to present the following when you enrol at any main South Metropolitan TAFE campus:

  • Details of your course offer.
  • Evidence of your Australian Citizenship, Permanent Humanitarian Visa or New Zealand Citizen Special Category Visa.
  • An Australian Tax File Number.
  • Your Australian Year 12 Senior Education Certificate or achieved a Certificate IV or higher in an Australian Qualification Framework and this course was delivered in English (you will be required to sit a literacy and numeracy assessment at South Metropolitan TAFE if you do not have either of these).
  • A valid and active email address.
  • A Unique Student ID.
  • If you are under 18 years of age your parent or guardian will need to attend to co-sign your application*.

2. Complete and lodge your VET Student Loan application

You will be asked to complete a VET Student Loan application form. The information provided on this form will be used to generate an electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF). 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 16 working days prior to the first census date. This is known as the student's administrative date, failure to submit your eCAF by this time will 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 pass their administrative date. If you are under 18 years of age your parent or guardian will be required to complete the Commonwealths, Request For a VET student Loan – Parental Consent form². 

3. Submit your electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF)

Once your eCAF has been submitted you will be confirmed in your course and a Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN) will be created on your behalf. 
You will be sent a ‘VET Student Loans - Statement of Covered fees’ and confirmation letter. 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.

4. Notice of Invoice and Commonwealth Assistance Notice

Throughout your study at South Metropolitan TAFE you will be provided with a VET Student Loan Fee Notice (at least 14 days before your first census date). This is a summary of your enrolment and associated fees until all census dates have passed.

Within 28 days after the census date, your loan will be finalised and you will receive a confirmation letter from South Metropolitan TAFE together with a Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN). A CAN is a summary of your enrolment, VET Student Loan debt and any loan fee that you may have incurred. It is common for a student to receive several CANs throughout their study from South Metropolitan TAFE for different census dates of their enrolled units. You are reminded that each CAN notice will only list units that have reached census dates. Please check each CAN carefully and notify the Admissions office at South Metropolitan TAFE within 14 days if there are any errors. 

Please contact the Student Loans Office immediately if you applied for a VET Student Loan during enrolments but have not received a confirmation of your loan approval, an invoice notice or a Commonwealth Assistance Notice by your first census date. SM TAFE’s Student Loans team can be reached at student.loans@smtafe.wa.edu.au.

5. Withdrawals or application for re-credit 

If your circumstances change after you have enrolled with a VET Student Loan, you may apply for a withdrawal and request a refund or re-credit of your loan.

You are reminded that you must lodge your withdrawal before your census dates in order to apply for a full refund or re-credit.

To find out more about withdrawing, visit our Withdrawals and Refunds page.

²Evidence of legal parental/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.

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.  

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. 

Attempt the Initial Assessment only. When a large tick appears on the screen you have finished the test and can access your results by clicking on the prompt. Exit the test and do not follow the prompt to the diagnostic test. 

Along the bottom of the screen there is a red bar which progresses as you complete your answers. It is not a timer. When it fills up it reloads and the 'back' button will disappear. 

Test conditions

The test must be done online and 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. 

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

Email studentloans@smtafe.wa.ed.au to arrange a booking. Semester 2 planned test dates will be released here soon.

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


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 will be 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 student.loans@smtafe.wa.edu.au 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.

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 of $5,075, $10,150 and $15,225. A separate loan cap for the aviation training package will apply. The loan cap will be $76,125 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 FEE-HELP limit (as indexed at that time), they will not be able to receive further VET Student Loan assistance or FEE-HELP assistance to pay their tuition fees. Repayments do not reset the maximum that can be borrowed.

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 $55,874 for the 2017-18 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. 

Policies, procedures and forms

FEE-HELP is the Student Loan scheme for those studying an Associate Degree or Higher Education Diploma course.

Eligibility Requirements

You are entitled to FEE-HELP assistance for a unit of study if you:

  • Meet the citizenship and residency requirements: 
    -    you are an Australian citizen or a New Zealand Special Category Visa holder who meets the long-term residency criteria and who will undertake, in Australia, at least one unit of study contributing to your course; OR
    -    you are a permanent humanitarian visa holder who will be residing in Australia for the duration of your unit; OR
    -    you are a permanent visa holder who is undertaking bridging study for overseas-trained professionals, and will be residing in Australia for the duration of the study;
  • Are enrolled in an eligible unit of study by the census date for that unit; and
  • Have not exceeded the FEE HELP limit.

You must also:

  • Meet the census date requirements
    You must be enrolled on or before the census date (which will be provided to you before or at enrolment) and remain enrolled in the units at the end of the census date.
  • Meet the Tax File Number (TFN) requirements
    This includes providing your TFN or your Certificate of Application for a TFN to SM TAFE’s Higher Education Student Services when you submit your FEE-HELP application. Visit the Australian Taxation Office for more information on TFNs.
  • Have completed the FEE-HELP form
    Have completed, signed and submitted a valid Request for FEE-HELP Assistance form and Application for FEE-HELP form on or before census date. You will receive these forms when you enrol and be provided with a copy of the FEE-HELP information booklet.
  • Have not exceeded the FEE-HELP limit
    The limit for 2017 is $100,879.

Eligible Courses

All Higher Education Associate Degrees and Diplomas are eligible for FEE-HELP. Please refer to the Fee Statement below for the list of eligible courses.  



Page last updated February 26, 2019