Eligibility for Commonwealth Supported Places and HELP loans

If you are in a Commonwealth Supported Place or in an Australian Full-Fee place and accessing a HELP loan, there are Australian Government eligibility criteria that you must meet to maintain this support. There are also limits to how much Commonwealth Supported study you can undertake.

The Australian Government’s Study Assist website outlines the eligibility criteria for:

Requirements introduced from 1 January 2022

Legislative changes made by the Australian Government mean that Student Learning Entitlement (SLE) and completion rate requirements apply from 1 January 2022.

What this means for you:

  • Students studying in a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) will be entitled to undertake seven years (7 EFTSL) of full-time study or part-time equivalent of Commonwealth Supported study at any Higher Education Institution. This is referred to as your Student Learning Entitlement and is calculated from 1 January 2022. There are some instances when additional SLE can be accessed once the seven years has been exceeded. If you expend all available SLE, you will no longer be eligible for a CSP and may need to transfer to a Full-Fee paying place for the remainder of your study.
  • Students commencing their course from 2022 onwards must meet new completion rate requirements to continue to receive Commonwealth assistance. Students who are assessed to have a ‘low completion rate’ will no longer be eligible for a CSP or HELP loan for that course.

Refer below for more information.

The University is currently developing processes to support these legislative changes and will continue to update this page when more information becomes available.

Important: check your subject census dates in the Handbook

The subject’s census date is the last date you can withdraw from a subject without it being counted towards your SLE or completion rate.

Withdrawing before the subject's last date to withdraw without fail is not considered an exception to the Australian Government's eligibility requirements. This means, if you withdraw after the subject's census date and before its Last date to withdraw without fail, while you will receive a WD (ie Withdrawn) grade on your academic record, it will still count as a fail towards your completion rate unless you have approved special circumstances.

Student Learning Entitlement

The SLE requirement applies to all students in a CSP who are undertaking subjects with a census date from 1 January 2022 onwards (subjects undertaken before this date don't count towards the SLE). It limits the amount of Commonwealth Supported study at a Higher Education Institution that a student can undertake to seven years of full-time study (7 Equivalent Full Time Student Load or EFTSL). In some instances, you may be eligible for additional SLE.

  • How the SLE requirement works
    • From 1 January 2022, students studying in a CSP will start with a SLE balance of 7 ordinary EFTSL for their undergraduate and graduate coursework studies. There are separate Commonwealth support provisions for graduate research studies (eg Doctor of Philosophy, Master by Research).
    • Any subject (regardless of institution of study) with a census date from 1 January 2022 onwards that you are enrolled in past its census date will reduce your SLE balance. For example, if you're enrolled in four 12.5 point Semester 1, 2022 subjects after their census dates, your remaining SLE balance will be 6.5 EFTSL.
    • If you expend your initial allocation of 7 ordinary SLE, check if you are eligible for additional or lifelong SLE, see below.
    • If you expend all available SLE, you will no longer be eligible for a CSP and may need to transfer into a Full-Fee Paying Place for the remainder of your study, subject to meeting admission requirements, and the University's academic progress and maximum course duration requirements.
    • There may be some exceptions and instances when your SLE can be re-credited where special circumstances apply.
  • What if I need additional SLE?

    There are two forms of SLE that you may be eligible to access if you have exceeded your initial balance, Additional SLE’ and ‘Lifelong SLE’. These can help enable you to undertake Honours and graduate coursework courses for which CSP are available.

    Additional SLE

    Additional SLE is available to students:

    • Enrolled in long undergraduate courses (ie where the normal course load is more than 6 EFTSL, 6 years of full-time study).
    • Undertaking an Honours course that is 1 EFTSL or less.
    • Undertaking graduate coursework courses, or graduate entry bachelor courses, for which CSPs are offered.

    The amount of ‘Additional SLE’ generally depends on the normal course load, and if you have already started to use previously allocated Additional SLE. Additional SLE can be used once your initial 7 ordinary EFTSL entitlement has been used.

    Lifelong SLE

    • Lifelong SLE’ of 3 EFTSL (3 years of full-time study or part-time equivalent) is available to students who need to retrain later in life (time limits apply).
    • A separate Lifelong SLE allocation is available if completing a course will take longer as it’s been restructured.
    • Lifelong SLE can be used once your initial 7 ordinary EFTSL entitlement and any Additional SLE has been used.
  • Where can I find more information about the SLE requirement?

    For more information refer to the Australian Government’s:

Completion rate requirement

Students who commenced their course from 2022 onwards must meet Australian Government completion rates to maintain a CSP and/or HELP loan. This includes students who deferred an offer in 2021 and are commencing from 2022 onwards.

  • How the completion rate requirement works
    • Students who commenced their course from 2022 onwards must successfully complete at least 50 per cent of units of study (ie subjects) and avoid a low completion rate in order to maintain Commonwealth assistance. This includes students who deferred an offer in 2021 and are commencing from 2022 onwards. The Australian Government defines a low completion rate as:
      • For bachelor level or higher course (excluding 25-point specialist and professional certificates), a fail rate of more than 50 per cent of the subjects you have attempted, after you have attempted eight or more subjects.
      • For a higher education course lower than bachelor (such as a diploma, concurrent diploma, or enabling course), a fail rate of more than 50 per cent after you have attempted four or more subjects.
    • Note that the completion rate is based on the number of subjects, rather than credit points, that you have undertaken.
    • The completion rate requirement is different from the University's academic progress requirements.
    • The completion rate requirements do not apply to the University’s 25-point specialist and professional certificates.

    How subjects count towards completion rates:

    • Any subject with a census date from 1 January 2022 onwards that you are enrolled in past its census date will be included in your completion rate calculation.
    • Subjects from which you withdraw after the subject census date count as a failed subject toward your completion rate. This includes if you withdraw after a subject’s census date and before its last date to withdraw without fail, as this date does not apply to completion rate calculations.
    • Subjects for which you applied for special consideration and accepted an authorised late withdrawal count as a fail toward your completion rate, unless there were ‘special circumstances’. See further information below about ‘special circumstances’, including the eligibility criteria, timeframes, and how to apply (this is separate to applying for special consideration).
    • Subjects for which you received credit (ie advanced standing or recognition of prior learning) toward your course are included in your completion rate as ‘passed subjects’ if the credited subject was undertaken from 1 January 2022.
    • Subjects undertaken from 1 January 2022 (i) as part of an overseas study programs (eg exchange, study abroad), or (ii) at another Australian university (eg as a cross-institutional student) also count toward the completion rate.
    • If you’re undertaking a diploma alongside your main degree (ie a concurrent diploma) separate completion rates will be calculated for these courses.
    • If you can prove that ‘special circumstances’ led to you withdrawing from, or failing, a subject, you will be able to apply to the University for that subject to not count toward your completion rate.  See further information below about special circumstances.
  • What happens if you have a low completion rate

    If you are identified as having a low completion rate, you will be ineligible for ongoing CSP or HELP loans for that course and the University will contact you by email to advise your options. The options are:

    • If you have not already done so, promptly advise the University if your studies were impacted by special circumstances.
    • Continue your course by paying the Australian Full Fee cost upfront. If you pay upfront and increase your completion rate to 50 per cent or higher, you will be eligible for Commonwealth assistance for your course again.
    • Take a break from your studies and apply for Leave of Absence from your course. Note there are limits on how much leave can be taken, and when you return from leave you will be enrolled on an Australian Full Fee basis until your re-meet the completion rate requirements.
    • Transfer to a new course at the University of Melbourne or another tertiary institution.  If you enrol in a new course, your previous completion rate will not carry over and you will be able to access Commonwealth assistance for your new course. If you transfer, remember to withdraw from your current course.
    • Withdraw from your course. If you decide to re-apply for admission to this course, note that application fees apply and re-selection is not guaranteed.

    If you're advised that you don't meet the completion rate requirement, please carefully read the email and respond by the date provided.  A fast response will be required in order to determine if you're eligible to continue to receive Commonwealth Assistance before your next census date. If you do not respond by the due date, we will cancel your enrolment in your course. If this occurs, you can apply for reinstatement of enrolment (fees and time limits apply).

  • I am enrolled in a graduate research course. Do the completion rate requirements apply to me?

    The completion rate requirements will only apply if:

    • You are receiving FEE-HELP for your graduate research studies (eg for any coursework subjects in which you might be enrolled), and
    • You’re enrolled in a graduate research course that entails undertaking 8 or more coursework subjects.
  • I was enrolled in a CSP but needed to change to an Australian Full Fee enrolment as I didn’t meet the completion rate. Do I need to apply for my fees to be changed back to a CSP when I re-meet the completion rate?

    If you’re enrolled in an undergraduate course, the University will automatically change your enrolment to a CSP once you re-meet the completion rate.

    Arrangements for graduate courses are to be determined.

  • Where can I find more information about the completion rate requirement?

    For more information, visit the Study Assist website and refer to the Australian Government’s HELP booklets for students.

If you are affected by special circumstances after your subject census date

If you withdrew from a subject after its census date, or failed a subject, and this was due to special circumstances, you can apply for that subject to not count toward your completion rate and have your SLE re-credited. Documentation supporting the special circumstances and their impact will be required.

Special circumstances are circumstances that:

  • Are beyond your control in that the circumstances were not due to your action or inaction, either direct or indirect, and for which you were not responsible, and
  • Do not make the full impact on you until on or after the subject’s census date, and
  • Make it impracticable for you to complete the subject.

Your circumstances must have impacted you to the extent that you were unable to complete the subject requirements and must have occurred or worsened on or after the census date.

All of the above criteria must be met in order for failed and withdrawn subjects to not count toward your completion rate.

Examples of circumstances that may make it impractical for you to complete a subject for completion rate purposes include:

  • Medical reasons (eg your medical condition changed to such an extent that you were unable to continue studying).
  • Family/personal circumstances (eg death or severe medical problems within your family or unforeseen family financial difficulties).
  • Employment-related circumstances (eg your employment status or arrangements changed and you’re unable to continue your studies, and this change was beyond your control).
  • Course-related circumstances (eg the University changed arrangements to your subject or course, and it was impossible for to undertake alternative subjects or courses).

How to advise the University of your special circumstances

  • Diploma, concurrent diploma or enabling courses

    The completion rate requirement only applies to you if you are in a Commonwealth Supported Place or accessing a HELP loan in an Australian Full-Fee place, and you commenced your course from 2022. If you are enrolled in the above-mentioned courses, your completion rate for that course will be calculated after you have undertaken 4 subjects toward that course. For example, this means that for students who commenced these courses in the first half of 2022, and were enrolled in at least 4 subjects toward that course after the subject census date/s, your first completion rate check will be at the end of Semester 1 2022.

    Withdrawn or failed First Half Year 2022 subjects:

    • If you withdrew or failed the subject due to special circumstances as defined above, apply for fee remission in special circumstances as soon as possible after withdrawing from the subject or receiving a fail grade.
    • If your fee remission in special circumstances application is approved, the fees for the approved subject/s will be remitted and the subject/s won’t count toward your completion rate calculation or Student Learning Entitlement.
    • The University will also contact you by email if you don’t meet the completion rate requirements at the end of Semester 1 2022.  This will let you know the next steps, including how to advise the University about any other subjects that you failed or withdrew from due to special circumstances. It will also include the date by which you need to respond in order for the University to determine if you are eligible to continue receiving Commonwealth Assistance before your next census date.  You will need to respond promptly and by the date specified.

    Withdrawn or failed Second Half Year 2022 subjects:

    If you withdrew or failed the subject due to special circumstances as defined above, apply for fee remission in special circumstances after withdrawing from the subject or receiving a fail grade, or opt to delay your application until the Second Half Year 2022 period, when the University plans to launch a new special circumstances form and process.

  • Bachelor, Master and other courses

    The completion rate requirement only applies to you if you are in a Commonwealth Supported Place or accessing a HELP loan in an Australian Full-Fee paying place and you commenced your course from 2022. If you are enrolled in a course at the bachelor level or higher, your completion rate won’t be calculated until you have undertaken 8 subjects toward that course. For most new students who commence these courses in full time study, this means the first completion rate check will be at the end of their first year.

    If you withdrew or failed the subject due to special circumstances as defined above, apply for fee remission in special circumstances after withdrawing from the subject or receiving a fail grade, or opt to delay your application until the Second Half Year 2022 period when the University plans to launch a new special circumstances form and process.

If your ability to undertake an assessment is affected by illness, bereavement or trauma, you may be eligible for support via special consideration.

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