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Cancelling* a VET FEE-HELP debt-unacceptable provider conduct

From 1 January 2016, stronger protections were put into place for students accessing a VET FEE-HELP loan. These include providing a way for your VET FEE-HELP debt to be cancelled* if you incurred the debt as a result of "unacceptable conduct" by your VET provider or its agent.

This means that if you enrolled in a unit of study leading to a diploma, advanced diploma, graduate certificate, or graduate diploma (or an eligible certificate IV course), and did not complete that unit, you may apply to have your VET FEE-HELP debt cancelled for that unit (and your FEE-HELP balance re-credited) under the new provision.

*Sometimes called 'remitting'

IMPORTANT NOTE: These new provisions apply only to the activities of VET providers or their agents that occurred on or after 1 January 2016. Students can read about a summary of the reforms introduced to VET FEE-HELP from January 2016 at the following fact sheet:

Important changes for students accessing VET FEE‑HELP PDF 455kb

Important changes for students accessing VET FEE‑HELP Word 3.7Mb

If you were subject to unacceptable conduct prior to this date, go to the 'I have a debt I know nothing about. What do I do?' heading here.

What is "unacceptable conduct"?

A summary of the actions or inactions that constitute unacceptable conduct is provided in the table below.

If you are not sure about whether your experience could be considered as "unacceptable conduct", the complete definitions are available at Part 6, Division 2 of the Higher Education Support (VET) Guideline 2015.

Examples of unacceptable conduct by a VET provider
*You were contacted by a VET provider/its agent and were pressured into signing-up for a course and applying for a VET FEE-HELP loan.
*You were enrolled in a course as a result of a VET provider cold-calling you (e.g. ringing/emailing you or approaching you in a shopping centre etc) about the course and suggesting VET FEE-HELP would be available.
*A VET provider or its agent offered you/someone else something such as money, a phone, laptop, or some sort of voucher in exchange for enrolling in the course and applying for a loan.
*You discovered you were not given correct, complete and clear information about your eligibility for VET FEE-HELP, or the fees for the course, and/or the amount of the VET FEE-HELP loan.
*You were told there were no fees for the course, or that VET FEE-HELP was not a loan, or that the loan would not have to be repaid.
*Your VET provider did not withdraw you from your course or unit, on or before the census date, after you had formally requested them to do so in writing.
*Your VET provider imposed a penalty and/or a withdrawal fee which stopped (i.e. prevented) you from withdrawing from your course or unit on or before the census date.
*After you officially withdrew from your unit, your VET provider still enrolled you in additional (or subsequent) units without your permission.
*Your VET provider did not wait 2 business days, from the date of your enrolment, before accepting a Request for a VET FEE-HELP loan form from you.
*Your VET provider charged you the total cost of the tuition fees for your course, all in one go at the beginning of the course, instead of apportioning (i.e. allocating and charging) it over the length of your course.
*Your VET provider failed to provide you with a VET FEE-HELP Invoice Notice or Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN) for your unit(s) of study.
*Your VET provider failed to publish its tuition fees before you enrolled in your course or unit.
*A VET provider or its agent allowed you to request a VET FEE HELP loan when you were not eligible.

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Is there a time limit to apply "under unacceptable" conduct?

You must lodge your application within the first 3 years after the period during which you undertook, or were to undertake, the unit unless it was not possible for you to lodge your application during that time. To apply for the cancellation of your debt, you must complete and submit the Cancellation of a VET FEE-HELP Debt (unacceptable conduct) Application form to the department.

NOTE: These provisions only apply to a unit of study (or the VET course of study of which the unit forms a part) that you have not successfully completed.

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Notice of intention of decision

Before making a decision on your application to cancel the debt, the department must give both you and your VET provider notice of the proposed decision and the reasons for making it. You and your VET provider then have 28 days each to provide written comments about the proposed decisions. After considering any submissions received, a decision will be made and you will be notified of the decision.

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Can I appeal the decision?

If you are unhappy with the decision, you should apply to the department for a review of the decision within 28 days using the Request for review of decision not to cancel a VET FEE-HELP debt (unacceptable conduct) form.

The department will respond in a reasonable time; however, if no response is received within 45 days of receiving your request, the original decision is taken to be confirmed.

If you are unhappy with the department's review decision, you can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) within 28 days for a review (of the department's decision). For more information visit the AAT website.

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Timeframes and follow-ups

If your application is successful, go here for information about:

  • how long it will take to cancel your debt; or
  • how to check whether your debt has been cancelled; or
  • what to do if you are concerned that you will have to make a compulsory repayment before your debt is cancelled.


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