The VET Student Loans (VSL) program is a Commonwealth Government initiative that enables eligible students in Australia to enter into a loan arrangement for the payment of tuition fees for eligible courses. VSL is particularly useful for those students who are unable to afford upfront payment of fees for access to quality higher-level VET courses.
How does VSL work?
If you are an eligible student, the Department of Education and Training (the department) may approve your VET Student Loan for one or more of our approved courses. The department will pay your loan directly to us as your approved course provider. You will be responsible for any gap amount in the tuition fees not covered by the loan.
- You will owe a debt to the Australian Government for the loan. This debt is added to your VETSL debt, and incorporated into your overall HELP loan.
- The department applies a loan fee of 20% under VET Student Loans. The loan fee is applied to the amount of VET Student Loan assistance provided and is included in your VETSL debt.
- Each person has a HELP loan they can use for approved courses. The HELP loan limit is currently set at $106,319 per year (for 2020). However, this loan limit has been increased to $152,700 for students studying aviation courses which lead to a commercial pilot licence outcome. This includes all three of our diploma courses (see ‘approved courses’ below).
- Your HELP balance is your available borrowing capacity at a point-in-time, and:
- when you incur a VETSL debt, this will reduce your HELP balance
- as you repay your HELP loan, this will increase your HELP balance.
NOTE: significant changes to VSL and HELP loans came into affect from 1 January 2020 – read more about the changes.
Your HELP balance is then managed by the Australian Taxation Office. Loan repayments are deducted proportionally from your earnings once you earn above a certain threshold. The loan may, until the debt is repaid, reduce your take-home (after-tax) wage or salary and may reduce your borrowing capacity. We recommend you seek independent financial advice before applying for a loan.
You can obtain your current HELP balance through the Australian Taxation Office. This will indicate the amount you have available to potentially use in our course/s – using a VET Student Loan.
A limited set of Diplomas and higher-level courses are approved by the department for VSL. Our courses approved for VSL are:
- AVI50219 Diploma of Aviation – Commercial Pilot Licence
- AVI50519 Diploma of Aviation – Instrument Rating
- AVI50419 Diploma of Aviation – Flight Instructor
Please access the course pages (above) for information on tuition fees, intake dates and census dates relevant to VSL.
Are you eligible for VSL?
To receive a VET Student Loan, you must:
- be an eligible student
- be studying one of our approved courses (see above)
- apply to the government using the approved form (see below), and
- confirm your engagement and progression to continue to access the loan throughout your course (see below).
Read more about the criteria to be eligible for a VET Student Loan.
Tuition fees and gap fees
The maximum amount that can be borrowed with VSL for a single course in the aviation field is $78,967 (as of 2020) – this is called the ‘course cap’. Tuition fees for all of our courses are currently less than the course cap. This means tuition fees for each course can be fully covered by VSL and there are no standard ‘gap fees’ which students must pay themselves.
You will be liable to pay gap fees if you do not have sufficient HELP balance to fully cover the tuition fees. You are responsible to pay gap fees to us directly, with the option of using our interest-free payment plan (subject to our approval). We may require this is paid up-front.
Non-tuition fees are not covered by VSL and are paid to us directly.
Other external fees (eg for items required for your study) are to be purchased separately by you and are not covered by VSL.
Study periods and census dates
Our courses are divided into a number of study periods of roughly equal length. There are at least three study periods in each course. Each study period has three key dates: start date, census date and completion date.
The census date is set at the one-fifth point of the study period (approximately). This date is important because:
- you become financially liable for the tuition fees for a study period at the end of the census day for that study period; and
- it is the date by which your enrolment in the course or part of the course can be cancelled or withdrawn without you incurring tuition fees for the course or part of the course.
Tuition fees are generally spread evenly across the study periods for a course and added to your VSL liability immediately after the census date in each study period.
Census dates for each course and intake are published on each course page – see links above.
How to apply and enrol with VSL
Step 1 – check your eligibility
Read the information on this page carefully, including all of the linked information on this page. It is your responsibility to read and understand this information, and to seek assistance from the provider of the information if you do not understand it. Ensure that you are eligible for a VET Student Loan and that you understand your obligations in relation to taking out this loan.
Step 2 – apply for the course
Apply for the course that you have selected at least seven days before the course is due to commence (as a minimum), and at least one month before the course is due to commence is recommended. Choose ‘VET Student Loan’ as your payment option in the online application form.
The online application will prompt you to provide required information for a VET Student Loan at various points. To prepare for this, have the following information and documents ready:
- your Tax File Number (TFN). If you don’t have a TFN, apply for one with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) now. You can provide us with a certificate from the ATO to indicate that you have applied for a TFN.
- your Unique Student Identifier (USI). If you don’t have a USI, apply for one now.
- document/s to prove your citizenship or residency eligibility
- document/s to prove that you meet the application requirements for the course (see the web page for the course)
- a document that proves your age, such as a birth certificate or passport
- if you are under 18 years of age:
- a signed letter from a responsible parent stating their consent for your application; and
- a Centrelink Income Statement as evidence that you receive Youth Allowance and you are ‘independent’ within the meaning of the Social Security Act 1991, Part 2.11.
Step 3 – engage in pre-entry selection activities
We will process your application using our standard processes and inform you whether your initial application has been accepted or declined.
If your application has been accepted, we will ask you to participate in a number of pre-entry selection activities at nominated dates and times. We use information from these activities to assess your suitability for the course. This stage will involve between 2 to 4 hours of your time (approximately) and the activities may be scheduled over a week or more. This stage must be completed before the start date for your selected course-intake.
Step 4 – receive the offer of enrolment
At this point we will inform you that either:
- you have been successful in your application and we are offering you a place in your selected course, and the place is in:
- your selected course-intake; or
- into a different course-intake from the one you selected (which you may accept or decline).
- or, you have been unsuccessful in your application and you have not been offered a place in the course.
Step 5 – accept the offer of enrolment
If you have been offered a place in the course, we will:
- send you a Letter of Offer
- send you a Student Agreement, which:
- lists further conditions of enrolment that you must then comply with to be fully enrolled; and
- you must read, sign and return to us if you wish to accept the offer
- send you a VET Student Loans Statement of Covered Fees and Fee Notice that sets out what fees are covered, and not covered, by the loan; and
- notify the department that you wish to apply for a VET Student Loan.
Step 6 – complete your eCAF with the department
The department will send you an email with your logon details to the electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF). You must submit the signed and completed eCAF form to us on or before the first census date for your course. We recommend you submit this form as far ahead of the census date as possible. If you do not submit your form on or before the census date, you will not be eligible for a VET Student Loan for all or part of the course and you will become personally liable to pay tuition fees directly to us at the that time.
Step 7 – finalise your enrolment and commence the course
The department will notify you when your application for a VET Student Loan has been accepted or denied.
If your application has been accepted, you are then fully enrolled with us and can commence the course on the start date shown in your Student Agreement.
If the department does not accept your application and you are denied a loan:
- your enrolment with us still stands and you may finalise your enrolment by selecting another payment option; or
- you may formally withdraw from the course from that point. VSL rules and census dates then do not apply and if the course has already commenced you will be liable for all tuition and non-tuition fees due up to the date of your withdrawal.
Course progress and engagement
During the course the department may contact you to request that you:
- communicate your agreement that the department should continue to use the VET student loan to pay tuition fees for the course;
- verify your enrolment in the course; and
- demonstrate at regular intervals that you are a genuine student and engaged in the course.
It is important that you notify us as soon as possible of any change of your contact details so these communications and official notices are properly delivered to you.
Our VSL policies and procedures
The following policies and procedures in our online Student Handbook are specific to VSL. You must be aware of and understand these policies and procedures before your apply for VSL with us:
- Student entry policy and procedures and VSL-specific entry requirements
- Student HELP balance responsibilities
- Student HELP balance re-crediting procedure and review procedure
- Statement of Tuition Assurance
- Attendance policy and procedures
- Withdrawal from enrolment procedures
- Enrolment cancellation procedures
- Information handling procedures
- Student complaints and appeals policy and procedures