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VET Student Loans

VET Student Loans are available to eligible students enrolled in specific Diploma or Advanced Diploma courses.

The Australian Government pays the amount of the loan direct to SM 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’s no application or loan fee for VET Student Loan government subsidised courses, however, there’s a loan fee of 20% for fee-for-service or commercial VET Student Loan debts.

Read the VET Student Loan booklet(opens in a new tab)  for more information and follow the steps below. But first, check if you’re eligible by using the Australian Government’s eligibility tool. You can also review useful information on our VET Forms, Policies and Fact Sheets(opens in a new tab) page.

Eligibility and important information

Before you apply for a VET Student Loan you will need to make sure you are eligible and understand the information below

You must meet the following eligibility 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
    • Pacific Engagement 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;
VET student loans will not be approved for students who do not meet eligibility requirements.

You will need to meet the following requirements to activate your loan: 

  • Have received an offer to study an eligible Diploma or Advanced Diploma course at South Metropolitan TAFE. 
  • Have a Tax File Number.
  • 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.
  • Read and understand the VET Student Loans booklet which can be found on the Department of (opens in a new tab) Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR).
Fee notice 

We will send you a Fee Notice at least 14 days prior to your census dates. It is normal to receive more than one Fee Notice and Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN) 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) if you have been approved for a loan. 

All students in an approved course will receive a Fee Notice regardless if you have applied for a loan.

Click on the links for more information.

Students accessing a loan  (160 KB) (PDF document - opens in a new tab)
Students not accessing a loan (157 KB) (PDF document)

Students accessing a loan will receive a CAN within 28 days of their census date passing.  This will confirm the final charges made to your loan for your unit/s.

Census dates 

Census dates are the date a student may withdraw from their course or part of the course using the withdrawal form prior to their census dates to not incur a debt.

You can check the census date for your course here


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.

How to apply

Before you apply, please ensure you are eligible and understand the above information. 

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

Australian citizenship requirements: 

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

*Students who do not have an Australian passport or an Australian Citizenship certificate can provide their birth certificate however, 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 which has been gained 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(opens in a new tab) .  

Permanent Humanitarian visa holder:

  • Provide current passport with humanitarian visa details***

Pacific Engagement Visa holder:

  • Provide current passport with humanitarian visa details***

***For Humanitarian and Pacific Engagement visa eligibility requirements, please visit Study Assist(opens in a new tab)

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
  • Sit an approved literacy and numeracy test achieving an exit level 3 or higher in both, or 
  • Achieved an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme that was delivered in English. 

Complete your enrolment in your course and advise the enrolling officer you have applied for a VET Student Loan when you are asked to make payment. Please note that submission of a VET Student Loan Application will not act as an enrolment confirmation. You must still enrol in your course regardless of your chosen payment option. If you are not deemed eligible for a VET Student Loan by your administrative dates, and have not made alternative payment arrangements, your enrolment at South Metropolitan TAFE will be cancelled. VET Student Loan Officers will follow up for further documents if required. 

You will be sent an electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) via email after enrolling, this may take up to two weeks to arrive during peak periods. This an online form which will register your VET Student Loan with the Commonwealth and must be submitted by your administrative dates. 

Students under 18 years of age:
Students under 18 years of age will need to complete a parental consent form(opens in a new tab) to submit with their online application.

FAQs - VET Student Loans

Below are some of the most common questions we get asked about the VET Student Loan process.
If you can't find the answer to your question below please contact one of our friendly staff by calling us on 1800 001 001 or email

Loan caps will apply to all approved courses. Other than for specified exceptions, there will be three loan cap bands. For 2024 they are $6,031, $12,063 and $18,097. A separate loan cap for the aviation training package will apply. The loan cap will be $90,497 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 you have borrowed an amount equal to the HELP limit (as indexed at that time), you will not be able to receive further VET Student Loan assistance or HELP assistance to pay your tuition fees.

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 $51,550 for the 2023-24 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
  • 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.

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 you can contact the Australian Tax Office on 13 28 61. 

It is a student’s responsibility to notify South Metropolitan TAFE of any change of contact details. A personal details amendment form can be completed  and returned to any Customer Service Centre with supporting evidence of your changes (eg. name change certificate). 

Note: Changes to your personal details must match your record in the USI Registry. Your student loan may be affected, and you will not receive your certificate or results from South Metropolitan TAFE if your personal details do not match with the USI Registry. Go to to update your details today.

Students must apply for a new loan every time they commence a new qualification. This includes studying a dual qualification, transferring studies from another provider to South Metropolitan TAFE, and moving from the Diploma to Advanced Diploma in the same field of study. 

It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that they have applied for a loan in the course(s) they are enrolled into. 

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.

Throughout 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. 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.

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(opens in a new tab) website for more information.

If you do not have a tax file number (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. You will be required to make alternate arrangements for your enrolment fees if you're ineligible for a VET Student Loan. 

If you are under 18 years of age, a parent or guardian must complete and sign a VET Student Loans Parental Consent Form(opens in a new tab) . The completed parental consent form must be submitted to SM TAFE before you can be issued with an eCAF application 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. If the name of the parent and child is different on your documents, you must provide a legal document showing your parent/child relationship.

The parental consent form is not necessary if you have been assessed by Centrelink as meeting the requirements for receiving the independent rate of Youth Allowance under part 2.11 of the Social Security Act 1991. You will need to provide evidence of this assessment in the form of your Centrelink Income Statement, which you can request by logging into myGov and selecting your Centrelink online account. For more information, visit Centrelink online account help - Request a document. (opens in a new tab)