Student smiling at camera with laptop on table.

A VET Student Loan is a loan from the Australian government that assists eligible students in paying their tuition fees. A VET student loan gives rise to a VETSL debt that continues to be a debt due to the Commonwealth until it is repaid.  The debt is repaid through the Australian tax system once you reach the minimum income threshold for repayment; repayments continue until you have repaid the debt.   

VET Student Loans are only available to approved courses by approved suppliers, such as CQU, at diploma level and above. A VET Student Loan cannot be used for a Certificate IV level course or below. 

Eligibility Requirements

A quick way to determine your eligibility is to use the Australian Government’s VSL Eligibility Tool. VET Student Loans will not be approved for students who do not meet the eligibility requirements.

To receive a VET Student Loan, you must:

  1. be an eligible student
  2. be studying an approved diploma course, as highlighted in the fees section for diploma courses, on this website. Course search is available on our Find a Course page.
  3. apply to the government using the VET Student Loan eCAF form which will be supplied, to you by CQU during enrolment process, and
  4. submit progression forms to confirm your ongoing engagement with your studies, and continue accessing the loan throughout your course.
  5. To be an eligible student, you must meet these criteria. 
  • You are:
    • an Australian citizen or
    • a qualifying New Zealand citizen (See FAQs section below), or 
    • a permanent humanitarian visa holder, who is usually resident in Australia.
  • Your HELP balance (the amount of your HELP loan limit you have left) is more than $0. This means you have enough HELP loan limit remaining for your proposed studies to be covered by the loan. The HELP loan limit is the limit on how much you can borrow. Any borrowing under FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP, VET Student Loans and, from 1 January 2020, HECS-HELP will count towards your HELP loan limit. 
  • You have enrolled in accordance with the CQU application requirements.
  • CQU has assessed you as academically suited to undertake the approved course on the basis of either:
    • providing your Australian Year 12 Certificate or
    • providing your International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB) diploma or
    • providing a copy of a certificate showing you have been awarded a qualification at level 4 or above in the Australian Qualifications Framework (where the language of instruction was English) or at a level in a framework that preceded the AQF and is equivalent to level 4 or above in the AQF or

If you cannot provide the above documents, you will be required to display competence at Exit Level 3 in the Australian Core Skills Framework in reading and numeracy. CQUniversity will assess your competence using the Australian Government-approved assessment tool Basic Keys Skills Builder (bksb).

In addition, CQU must reasonably believe you show competence in completing the course.

  • You meet the Tax File Number (TFN) requirements.
  • You have a Unique Student Identifier (USI) or are otherwise exempt.
  • You have given the required documents to your approved course provider and submitted the loan application form by the first census day no less than two business days after enrolling.

For more information on VET Student Loans, visit the Study Assist website.

To apply for a VET Student Loan, you must complete the Request for a VET Student Loan electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) by the census day.

How to Apply

You are eligible to apply for a VET Student Loan two business days after you enrol into your units in the eligible VET Student Loan Course. You must submit your eCAF on or before your first census day for your course if you wish to defer your fees to your VET Student Loan, if you do not submit your eCAF by the first census date for your course you will be liable to pay the fees in full to CQUniversity.

After enrolling in your first unit/s CQUniversity will notify the Australian Government that you have chosen to apply for a VET Student Loan. The Australian Government will send information to your CQU Student Email so that you can complete an application for the VET Student Loan.

Census dates can be found below and on the CQU academic calendars.

For more information on applying for a VSL, please read the VET Student Loans Information Booklet.

TAFE Census Calender

You must submit your eCAF on or before your first census day. If you do not submit your eCAF on or before the census day, you will not be able to access a VET Student Loan for that fee period.

2024 IntakeCensus Date
JanuaryWednesday 31 January 2024
FebruaryMonday 4 March 2024
MarchTuesday 2 April 2024
AprilMonday 29 April 2024
MayMonday 3 June 2024
JuneMonday 1 July 2024
July Monday 29 July 2024
AugustMonday 2 September 2024
SeptemberMonday 30 September 2024
OctoberMonday 4 November 2024
NovemberMonday 2 December 2024
DecemberThursday 2 January 2024
2025 IntakeCensus Date
JanuaryMonday 3 January 2025
FebruaryMonday 3 March 2025
MarchMonday 31 March 2025
AprilTuesday 6 May 2025
MayMonday 2 June 2025
JuneMonday 31 June 2025
July Monday 4 August 2025
AugustMonday 1 September 2025
SeptemberMonday 29 September 2025
OctoberMonday 3 November 2025
NovemberMonday 1 December 2025
DecemberFriday 2 January 2025

Frequently Asked Questions

A subsidy reduces the cost of tuition fees for specific courses for eligible students. Subsidies can be provided by State Governments or the Australian Government. Subsidies may also be funded by both State and Australian Governments in partnership. The subsidy will have a specific name, such as Higher Level Skills or Fee-Free TAFE. Subsidies available with CQU are shown on our subsidies website.  Subsidies do not need to be repaid by eligible subsidy recipients. VET Student Loans do need to be repaid. 

The VET Student Loans program is an Australian Government loan program that helps eligible students enrolled in approved courses at diploma level or above, at approved course providers pay their tuition fees. The loan has income-contingent repayment arrangements, which means you only need to make repayments if you are earning above the minimum repayment threshold. You can make voluntary repayments at any time.

If you are an eligible student, the department may approve your VET Student Loan for an approved course. The department will pay your loan directly to your approved course provider, such as CQU. You will be responsible for any gap amount in the tuition fees, which are not covered by the loan. You will owe a debt to the Australian Government for the loan, which will be managed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). 

Subsidies can be used in conjunction with VSL. For example, if you are eligible for a subsidy, such as Higher Level Skills, and there is still a balance of tuition fee to be paid, you can apply for a VSL. If you are not eligible for a subsidy you can apply for a VSL to fund the tuition cost of the course up to the loan cap. Full fee paying/fee for service students will incur a 20 per cent loan fee on their VET Student Loan. Students enrolled in a diploma and advanced diploma level course whose enrolment is subsidised by a state or territory government do not incur a loan fee.

Yes, there are loan caps determined by the Australian Government. There are generally three loan cap bands of $5,595, $11,191 and $16,788 (2023 caps) which approved VET Student Loan courses fall within. You cannot borrow more than the maximum loan amount for your course.

For more information on VSL loan caps, view the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations website.

Please note that from 1 January 2020 the Australian Government introduced a combined HELP loan limit which caps the amount you can borrow. This loan limit includes any new HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loans debt incurred from 2020 onwards plus any existing debt.

For more information on the HELP loan limit, visit the Study Assist website.

The Australian Government has approved CQU to deliver a number of courses eligible for a VET Student Loan. Courses that are approved for a VET Student Loan, and the cap on the loan amounts that students can borrow for each of these courses are set by the Australian Government.

A qualifying New Zealand citizen is a New Zealand citizen who meets all of the following:

  • holds a special visa category, such as the New Zealand Special Category Visa (SCV);
  • has been usually resident in Australia for at least 10 years;
  • was a dependent child when they were first a resident in Australia;
  • has been in Australia for periods totalling 8 years during the previous 10 years; and
  • has been in Australia for periods totalling 18 months during the previous 2 years.

If your qualification is from overseas, then the certificate provided must be a letter or certificate issued by a Federal, State, or Territory government agency which assesses overseas qualifications and which shows your qualification has been determined to be equivalent or comparable to a qualification in the Australian Qualifications Framework at level 4 or above.

Visit usi.gov.au to create a USI or find an existing one.

For more information on the minimum threshold set by the Australian Government and repayments, please view thVSL Information Booklet.

An eCAF is short for electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form. To apply for a VET Student Loan you must complete the Request for a VET Student Loan electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) by the census day. See Applying for a VET Student Loan above for more information.

If you do not complete the eCAF, or other permitted form, by the required date for your course, you will have to wait until the next part of your course /unit, next semester or trimester to request a VET Student Loan for future study. Retrospective access to VET Student Loans is not allowed under any circumstances.

Most CQU diploma courses are approved for VSL. Search from the CQU subsidy page for your diploma of interest and check the fees section for more information.

A two-business day cooling off period will occur when you have enrolled in a VET Student Loans eligible course to provide you with some time to make sure of your choice to take out a loan for your tuition.

Please note if you enrol in a unit/s less than two business days prior to Census date you will not be eligible for VET Student Loans for those unit/s of study.

The VET Student Loans Information Booklet provides key information students applying for a VET Student Loan need to know. The topics covered include eligibility, applying for and managing your loan, as well as your rights and obligations. You must read this booklet before applying for a VET Student Loan.