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VET Student Loan process

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 
  • 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. 

Before you begin, you need to read and understand the information on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment VET Student Loan booklet.

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

VET Student Loans are only available to eligible students for eligible courses. 

For more information about eligibility please go to our the Eligibility page

If you are ready to apply for your VET Student Loan please go to the Applying for a VET Student Loan page. 

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

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 us 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.

SM TAFE census dates list (2 MB) (PDF document)

To be eligible for a loan you have to enrol 16 days before the census date of your course. The Unit Administrative Date for each enrolled unit falls on the 16th day prior to census date for each unit. If you don’t enol in your units in time, 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 16 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.  

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 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.

To find out more please see the Commonwealth's Student Progression Fact Sheet

We 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 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 don’t notify Admissions Office – South Metropolitan TAFE about any changes within 14 days from the date of your CAN letter we 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 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 we finalise 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.

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: 

  • You were unable to complete the requirements of the unit(s) during the study period; and
  • You apply in writing for special circumstances remission/re-credit; and
  • 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 the following criteria:

  • the circumstances that led to your withdrawal were beyond your control; are not a result of your action or inaction; are unusual or uncommon
  • 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
  • made it impracticable for the you to complete the requirements for the course, or part of the course, during your enrolment.

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