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What are the current arrangements?

In the higher education sector, eligible New Zealand citizens have access to subsidised higher education places, known as Commonwealth supported places. In the vocational education and training sector, New Zealand citizens also have access to government-subsidised places in some states and territories. In most cases, New Zealand citizens are not eligible to access any Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loans.

Whilst children born in Australia to parents who are New Zealand citizens and hold a Special Category Visa (SCV) may later become Australian citizens (at age 10 if they have been resident in Australia since their birth), and therefore entitled to Australian Government support for tertiary study, there were no allowances for young SCV holders brought to Australia as dependent children to access HELP loans.

However, the Government has implemented changes to allow New Zealand citizens who are SCV holders and meet the requisite criteria access to HELP loans from 1 January 2016. Read below for more information.

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What are the changes for eligible SCV holders?

The Australian Government has passed legislation to provide Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loans to New Zealand citizens who are Special Category Visa (SCV) holders and meet the requisite criteria.

Note: just being a New Zealand citizen, or holding a Special Category Visa, won’t automatically entitle you to HELP loans – you must meet all of the required eligibility criteria under this category.

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Am I eligible?

If you hold a New Zealand SCV you will be able to access HELP loans, providing you meet ALL the long-term residency requirements:

  • First began residing in Australia at least 10 years ago and at that time you were a child under the age of 18 with no spouse or de facto partner; and
  • You have been in Australia for at least:
    • a total of eight out of the past 10 years; and
    • a total of 18 months out of the last two years.

If you do not meet all of the above criteria you are not eligible for a HELP loan.

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What are the benefits?

Access to HELP will assist you with the upfront costs of study and enable you to benefit from the advantages of a tertiary education.

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How do I apply?

You must contact the student administration office at your education provider for assistance in applying for a HELP loan. They will provide you with the necessary forms to complete.

If you are eligible, you will need to fill out a Commonwealth Assistance Form for the type of HELP for which you are applying. You will have to provide evidence you have been living in Australia for the qualifying period. If necessary, you can obtain copies of your international movement records from the Department of Home Affairs by lodging form 1359 - Request for International Movement Records available at https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/FormsAndDocuments/Documents/1359.pdf

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When will the changes take effect?

HELP loans are available to eligible NZ SCV holders from 1 January 2016 (i.e. for units of study with a census date on or after 1 January 2016). VET Student Loans are available to eligible NZ SCV holders from 1 January 2017.

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What assistance will be provided to students to understand the changes?

Information is available in the current versions of the booklets for the individual HELP schemes (HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP, OS‑HELP and SA-HELP) and VET Student Loans. The booklets are available on the Publications page of the Study Assist website. The VET Student Loans information booklet (opens in a new window) is on the Education Department's website.

Do I remain eligible if my visa status changes to Permanent Resident?

If you hold a New Zealand SCV but then apply for, and are granted, a permanent residency visa, your HELP eligibility would change to that of a permanent visa holder (non-humanitarian subclass).

Permanent visa holders (non-humanitarian subclass) are eligible for Commonwealth supported places but they are not eligible to access a HELP loan for tertiary study. Permanents residents are only able to access a FEE‑HELP loan if they are undertaking specific bridging study for overseas-trained professionals and meet the relevant requirements.

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