A number of legislative changes have passed through parliament, many of which will come into effect on 1 January 2021.

Unique Student Identifier (USI) requirements

From 1 January 2021, to be eligible for a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP), HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP or OS-HELP (Commonwealth assistance), new students will need to provide their Unique Student Identifier (USI) on their Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF).

It's free and quick to apply for your USI online through the Australian Government website. You'll need to provide proof of identity with your application.

Your USI is a reference number that creates an online record of all your Australian training and qualifications. It stays with you for life and gives you access to an online record of your nationally recognised training in the form of a USI Transcript.

You may already have a USI if you have undertaken any nationally recognised training, like a Certificate or Diploma through TAFE.

By 2023, all tertiary students, including international students, will need to have a USI to be able to graduate from university.

Student contribution amount changes

the student contribution amount you pay in your Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) may change from 2021.

If you enrolled in your course before 2021

Any student contribution amount increases won't affect you. You'll continue paying the previous student contribution amount for any units that otherwise would have increased in 2021.

If you enrol in units with a lower student contribution amount from 2021 you'll pay the new lower amount.

If you start a new course or change course from 2021

The new 2021 student contribution amounts apply to all your units.

You may also be eligible to be considered a ‘pre-2021 student’ if:

  • you completed a course of study on or before 31 December 2020 and, on or after 1 January 2021, you start an honours degree that relates to the earlier course
  • you were studying an enabling course in 2020 and, on or after 1 January 2021, you start another course of study that is leading to an award
  • you were studying an undergraduate certificate (UC) and, on or after 1 January 2021, you start another bachelor degree course that relates to the UC.

FEE-HELP loan fee exemption and reduction for undergraduate full fee-paying students

Undergraduate full fee-paying students are normally charged a 25% FEE-HELP loan fee.

There will be an exemption from the FEE-HELP loan fee for units with a census date between 1 April 2020 and 30 June 2021.

The FEE-HELP loan fee will then be reduced from 25% to 20% for all units with a census date on or after 1 July 2021.

This reduction will lower the total debt amount incurred by students accessing FEE-HELP for undergraduate course and will be applied automatically.

There are no FEE-HELP loan fees for postgraduate study.

HECS-HELP 10% upfront payment discount

From 1 January 2021 eligible students who make an upfront payment of $500 or more will receive a 10% discount on unit fees.

You can choose to make a partial payment of $500 or more to get the 10% discount on the amount you pay, and then defer the rest of the fees to your HEECS-HELP loan.

The discount also means that if you pay 90% of your student contribution amount as an upfront payment your entire student contribution amount will be paid, as the Government will pay the remaining 10% directly to QUT.

Upfront payments must be made on or before the census date for the relevant teaching period.

Student Learning Entitlement (SLE) for Commonwealth Supported Places

From 2022, sthere will be a limit on the length of time you can be enrolled in a Commonwealth Supported Place of seven years of full-time study or part time equivalent. This is called your Student Learning Entitlement.

The combined renewable HELP limit introduced on 1 January 2020 will also still apply. This is a cap on the total amount you can borrow under all HELP loan schemes.

Commonwealth Assistance eligibility requirements

In addition to the current requirements, the new Commonwealth assistance eligibility requirements require students to:

  • provide a USI (for students commencing from 2021)
  • be a genuine student
  • be assessed as academically suited to their course by QUT
  • limit their enrolment to no more than an Equivalent Full Time Study Load (EFTSL of 2.0 across all higher education providers unless they're assessed as academically suited to undertake more study
  • maintain a reasonable completion rate from 2022.

Equivalent Full Time Study Load (EFTSL) explained

An Equivalent Full Time Study Load (or EFTSL) is a measure of a full-time study load. For example, one EFTSL is quivalent to one year of full-time study in a higher education course. A typical full-time study load over a year is usually eight units of 0.125 EFTSL each.

If you would like to study more than 2.0 EFTSL (2 years or more, across one or more providers) worth of study in one year and still receive Commonwealth assistance, QUT will need to assess you as academically suitable and able to successfully undertake that study.

As requirements for different courses vary, you should talk to QUT in the first instance about what you need to do to prove your suitability. If you are enrolled in more than one higher education provider at the same time, you'll need to be assessed as suitable by each provider.