Information for VET FEE-HELP Students - FAQs

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What is inappropriate conduct?

Under the VET FEE-HELP loan scheme, a number of unscrupulous training providers and their agents targeted vulnerable people.

Those targeted were signed up inappropriately to courses which they may not have had the academic capability or means to complete and may not have understood they were receiving a loan from the Commonwealth that needed to be repaid.

Some students were not aware they had signed up to training and were not aware of debts they had incurred.

As a result, the scheme left many students with large debts and in some cases little to no training outcomes.

Anyone who has concerns about a VET FEE-HELP debt they have incurred can make a complaint using the form on the Commonwealth Ombudsman VET Student Loans website.

VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures fact sheet on the new measures is available on the Tools and Resources page of the Commonwealth Ombudsman website.

I have a complaint about a debt I should not have. How do I get my debt cancelled under the new measures?

New VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures came into effect from 1 January 2019.

The new measures provide a remedy for students who, due to the inappropriate conduct of their VET provider, incurred debts under the VET FEE-HELP loan scheme.

Affected students should contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman, which is part of the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, who will assess and investigate your complaints.

If you incurred your debt because of inappropriate behaviour by your provider, the Ombudsman may be able to make recommendations to the Secretary of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment to cancel your VET FEE-HELP debts.

Anyone who has concerns about a VET FEE-HELP debt they have incurred can make a complaint using the form on the Commonwealth Ombudsman VET Student Loans website.

VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures fact sheet on the new measures is available on the Tools and Resources page of the Commonwealth Ombudsman website.

I have already complained to the VSLO. What do I do?

The VET Student Loans Ombudsman is assessing and investigating existing complaints to prepare them for recommendation to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment from 1 January 2019.

The VET Student Loans Ombudsman contacted students about the process of assessing complaints against VET FEE-HELP providers during 2018 and will continue to provide updates in 2019 on progress.

If you have already contacted the Ombudsman and want an update on your complaint, you can email them at VET@Ombudsman.gov.au and include your Ombudsman reference number.

If you have not contacted the Ombudsman yet, you can make a complaint to them by completing their online form on the Commonwealth Ombudsman VET Student Loans website.

VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures fact sheet on the new measures is available on the Tools and Resources of the Commonwealth Ombudsman website.

I have been told by the VET Student Loans Ombudsman that my debts have been/will be cancelled but they are still showing up on myHELPbalance/ATO records?

If you have received a notification from the VET Student Loans Ombudsman advising you that they have recommended your debt be cancelled, this may be still being processed by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. The Secretary or delegate must still consider the VSLO's recommendation and make a decision. You will be notified once the decision is made.

An estimate of how long it would take to process your debt cancellation was provided in your letter. Please check this date again and, if you are still concerned, please submit an enquiry using the VET FEE-HELP student online enquiry form below.

I have been told by the department that my debts have been cancelled but they are still showing up on myHELPbalance/ATO records?

If you have received a notification from the department about your debts being cancelled then they may be still being processed.

An estimate of how long it could take to process your debt cancellation was provided in your letter. Please check this date.

If after checking this date you still believe the debt cancellation should have already been processed, please submit an enquiry using the online enquiry form below.

The department has made a decision on my Inappropriate/Unacceptable conduct application that I do not agree with. What can I do?

If you are unhappy with the decision the delegate of the department makes, you can request a review of the decision by filling out the online form below, making sure you select "Review request" from the drop down menu.

You must say that you are asking for a review of the department's decision and write the reasons why you believe the department's decision is not correct.

The department will re-consider all aspects of the decision and the review could result in a better or worse outcome for you.

If, after requesting a review, you still disagree with the department's decision, you can appeal this decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

You will need to do this within 28 days of receiving the department's decision on your review. Costs may apply, and you may wish to obtain legal advice. More information is available on the AAT's website.

I have a complaint about my VET FEE-HELP provider?

If students have a complaint or grievance about any matter relating to their academic study (e.g. quality of training) or non-academic matters (fees, charges, etc), they should submit their complaint directly to their provider through that provider's formal complaints process. Each provider will have instructions on how to submit a complaint on their website. This includes complaints asking for VET FEE-HELP debts to be remitted. A provider has the ability to remit or cancel a student's VET FEE-HELP debt depending on the nature of the complaint.

If the matter cannot be resolved by this process all providers have a review/appeal process. If you are still not satisfied you can ask that the matter be referred to an independent external arbitrator (mediator), nominated by the provider, for further consideration.

If your complaint is not resolved by your provider you may refer your complaints to the VET Student Loans Ombudsman for investigation.

Complaints Regarding Quality: As the national regulator for VET, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is responsible for investigating allegations of issues with the quality of training or student treatment by VET FEE-HELP providers. ASQA uses information from the complaints process to determine how it regulates certain providers. Should you have concerns regarding your experiences, you may wish to submit a formal complaint to ASQA via their website.

My VET FEE-HELP provider agreed to cancel my HELP debt but I still have it?

When an education institute re-credits your VET FEE-HELP/VET Student Loans balance and remits the debt, the provider must tell the department. Providers submit data to the department monthly. The department will advise the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which then applies the revision to your tax records. Please note there can be a time lag of some months between when your provider tells the department of the decision to cancel a debt and when the ATO removes it from a student's record.

On confirmation that your provider has submitted a revisions file** to the department, you may wish to contact the ATO area that takes care of HELP debts and advise the ATO that a revisions file has been forwarded to the department in relation to your debt. If you have concerns you can discuss options available to you with the ATO regarding your tax matters.

Contact details for the ATO:

visit the Study and Training Support loans page of the ATO website.

use ATO online services to view loan accounts and other information such as Payment Reference Number (PRN) and voluntary repayment options,

call 13 28 61 for information about your HELP account and personal tax topics,

call 13 36 77 TTY or 1300 555 727 TTY for hearing or speech impaired students, or

write to: Australian Taxation Office PO BOX 1032, ALBURY NSW 2640.

Please note, the ATO will conduct identification checks for your enquiry, so remember to have your Tax File Number handy.

Additional information about repaying your HELP loan is available on the StudyAssist website.

** Due to a retrospective validation process applied to data reported by providers, this may result in the data being revised up to eight weeks after it has been reported. This revised data is then transferred to the Australian Taxation Office .