Undertaking higher education is confronting and illuminating in so many ways. Of course, study brings educational and intellectual advantages – that’s one of the main reasons it’s undertaken. Social awareness can also be generated, with emotional maturity frequently developed as students open their minds to new ideas and ways of thinking.

Financially, higher education is something of a mixed blessing. Of course, people undertake study – from university degrees to makeup training courses – with the aim of finding employment, and with it a healthy income, in the long term. However, it can also prove to be a fiscally trying time, as pupils struggle to balance the costs of education with the struggle to fit in a part-time job and a social life.

studying-usedIt’s for this reason that the Australian government offers VET FEE HELP. At the most basic level, the scheme offers students a loan, allowing them to borrow funds to help pay for studies. This means that instead of shelling out thousands of dollars to pay for their education, students are able to pay for it once they’re earning a decent amount.

The idea behind VET FEE HELP is best explained using a case study. Let’s say that you’re a young woman undertaking a nationally recognized beauty therapy qualification. This education is likely to bring you a regular income following study, but at present your study load prevents you from undertaking more than a dozen hours of part-time work per week. The scheme releases you from paying for your study upfront, allowing you to devote any income (and/or Centrelink payments) towards accommodation, food, textbooks and other expenses.

Of course, VET FEE HELP is not compulsory for students. Many students who undertake higher education will reach an agreement with their parents that allows them to bypass governmental aid. But those seeking the assistance must have Australian citizenship, and attend a respected educational facility that has been approved as part of the arrangement, such as ellabachecollege.edu.au.

Over the course of their educational career, students commencing higher study in 2014 can borrow up to $120,000. This amount, it should be clarified, is not per year – it is a total that is not able to be reset or topped up. It is not means tested, which means that, regardless of your own income or that of your family, you will be eligible for the loan.

The cost of repaying the loan varies across Australia, with most states and territories charging a 20% fee. VET FEE HELP loans only have to be repaid after an income threshold of just above $50,000 per year is reached. The amount repaid per year is determined based on income. So if you never earn above the threshold, the debt will not have to be repaid.

Voluntary repayments of $500 or more come with a bonus of 5% repayment. This means, for example, that if you choose to voluntarily repay $1000, an extra $50 will be subtracted from your total amount owed. Winning!

More information is available via the Australia Government’s Study Assist website.

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