There is an updated article on this topic, found here: Changes to VET FEE-HELP Scheme
If natural therapy is your passion and you want to pursue a career in a related discipline, but don't have the money to pay your tuition, look into VET FEE-HELP. VET FEE-HELP is a student loan program established by the Australian government to help Australians pursue their career goals. Eligible applicants can have all or part of their tuition paid for by the government and then pay back the loan when they have finished school and are gainfully employed.
How VET FEE-HELP Works
VET FEE-HELP is a loan scheme administered by the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector of the Australian government. It is one part of the government's Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). In order to qualify for a loan, the prospective student must be seeking a diploma, an advanced diploma, a graduate certificate or a graduate diploma at an approved institute of higher learning in Australia.
Many Natural Therapy schools and colleges are approved VET providers. This sometimes comes as a surprise to prospective applicants, who mistakenly believe these student loans are only available to TAFE and university students enrolled in more mainstream disciplines.
How to Apply for a VET FEE-HELP Loan
The first thing you need to do is find a VET approved institution that provides the natural therapies courses you are interested in. This institution will be a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and will guide you through the application process.
Before you apply for a loan, you must be enrolled in an approved course or unit of study. A census date will be set by your VET provider (the educational institution). The census date will be no earlier than one-fifth of the way through your course of study. IMPORTANT: You must submit your request on or before the census date in order to be approved.
How Do I Know if I Am Eligible for a VET FEE-HELP Loan?
If you are an Australian citizen or have a Permanent Humanitarian sub-class visa, you are probably eligible for a loan. New Zealand citizens and permanent visa holders are NOT eligible for these loans.
What Does a VET FEE-HELP Loan Cover?
These loans cover tuition only. You can elect to have all or part of your tuition covered by the loan.
What About Loan Repayments?
You do not have to begin repaying your VET FEE-HELP loan until after you have completed your studies, are gainfully employed and your income exceeds the minimum threshold determined on that financial year. In 2009-2010, the threshold was $43,151. You do not have to pay interest on the loan, but a 20% loan fee does apply to VET FEE-HELP loans.
How Much Can I Borrow?
Over the course of your studies, you can borrow a maximum of $85,062 dollars. There is no time limit set on your eligibility for these loans and they are not performance based. In other words, if you first apply for a loan in order to gain a diploma in a natural therapy and later decide you wish to undertake further studies in order to gain an advanced diploma, a graduate certificate or graduate diploma, you can apply for further assistance, even if you are recommencing study after a period of years.
Where Can I Find Out More?
For more information, go to the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations VET FEE-HELP website. The site also includes a full list of Approved VET Providers, including natural therapy schools and colleges.