VET Student Loans (VSL)

Get Yourself FinLit

VET Student Loans (VSL)

At the beginning of 2017, the VET FEE HELP system was reformed and its name changed to VET Student Loans. It was all a bit confusing and controversial, so let’s start at the beginning.

What do these words actually mean?

VET = Vocational Education and/or Training

VET refers to the courses that provide practical training in industries such as trades, hospitality and retail. The most obvious ones are the courses you might do at TAFE or a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) (but not a university), such as carpentry, mechanics, hairdressing, plumbing, cooking and so many others.

FEE = The money you have to pay to study.

That’s pretty straight forward – studying costs money.

HELP = Higher Education Loan Program

HELP is a loan system that the Australian Government offers to eligible students. It’s similar to a university HECS-HELP loan in that you don’t have to pay any money up front. Rather you pay the money back to the government once you’ve started working and earning money.

So let’s solve this riddle…

VET + FEE + HELP = Getting a government loan to pay the fees for your chosen path of study.

So what’s changed?

The VET-FEE HELP system was reformed at the end of 2016, and was renamed VET Student Loans.

The reason for the reform is that in 2016, there were a lot of training providers who were accused of rorting the system, and many of the courses covered by VET-FEE HELP were found to have low enrolments and low prospects for employment afterwards. Basically, the government decided to stop loaning students money for certain courses and areas of study.

There were about 800 different courses that were covered by VET-FEE HELP, but as part of the reforms, the government changed the requirements for a VET Student Loan, cutting 478 of the courses that were previously available. This came into effect on January 1 2017, so there are a few less options for what you’re able to get a loan for.

If you’re wondering whether your prospective course is still covered by a government loan, check directly with the TAFE or Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

Apart from that, a VET Student Loan is pretty much the same as VET FEE HELP. So the moral of the story is that most of the reforms affect Registered Training Organisations, rather than individual students. So as long as your course is still covered by the loan system, then you’re all good.

If you’ve got a more complex question about where you stand with your VET Student Loan or VET FEE HELP, check this site or download the fact sheet, which explains all the nitty gritty.

Am I Eligible?

It’s almost a certainty that you’re eligible. You just have to be an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or the holder of a permanent residency visa and be accepted into the course. Again, the main thing to check is whether your course is still covered by VET Student Loans, which you can ask the TAFE or Registered Training Organisation.

How does it work?

When you apply for a course in any TAFE or Registered Training Organisation, you’re applying for a Commonwealth Supported place, which means you’re covered upfront by the VET Student Loans scheme. The best part is that you don’t have to pay back any of your VET Student Loan until you’re earning over the threshold income, which is adjusted annually and is currently an annual salary of $54,849 (this figure is correct as at August 2017) So future you can pay back the loan, and rn you can just focus on getting some training.

Repaying the debt

You might hear horror stories in the media about students with massive debt (mostly from America, to be fair). Fortunately, Aussies don’t have to pay interest on their student loans, and don’t start paying it back until they earn over the threshold income, which, as mentioned, is currently $54,849 per year (correct as at August 2017).

If your yearly taxable income is below the threshold amount, you don’t pay any money back - at least not until you start earning a higher salary.

We once heard a rumour that if you die still owing money on your student loan then your family has to pay it back for you. While the thought is pretty morbid, it’s also untrue – in this case your outstanding loan is cancelled.

This information is intended to be general in nature only and might not apply to your personal circumstances. When in doubt, always seek professional guidance.
loading Please wait...