Apply for removal of HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP or VET Student Loan debt

In special circumstances, you can apply to have your HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP or VET Student Loan debt removed. This is known as remission of debt.


The remission of debt in special circumstances application process is administered by RMIT University on behalf of the Australian Government. Application eligibility is assessed in accordance with the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA).

You may be eligible for remission (removal) of your HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP or VET Student Loan debt for a course, and/or a refund of your payment of a student contribution for a course if all of the following criteria are met.

Circumstances are beyond your control if a situation occurs which:

  • is not due to your action or inaction (either direct or indirect), and
  • you were not responsible for, and
  • is unusual, uncommon or abnormal.

Circumstances did not make their full impact on you until on or after the census date if the circumstances occur:

  • before the census date, but worsen after that day, or
  • before the census date, but the full effect or magnitude is not apparent until on or after that day, or
  • on or after the census date.

Circumstances that made it impossible for you to complete the requirements of a course may include:

  • Medical circumstances. For example, your medical condition changed to such an extent that you’re unable to continue studying.
  • Family/personal circumstances. For example, death or a severe medical issue within your family, or unforeseen family financial difficulties, that made it unreasonable to expect you to continue your studies.
  • Employment-related circumstances. For example, your employment status or arrangements changed so that you’re unable to continue your studies, and this change was beyond your control.
  • Course-related circumstances. For example, RMIT changed the course offered and you’re disadvantaged by either not being able to complete it, or not being given credit towards other courses.

Consideration will be given to whether you were unable to:

  • undertake the necessary private study required, attend sufficient lectures or tutorials or meet other compulsory attendance requirements in order to meet your compulsory course requirements
  • complete the required assessable work
  • sit the required examinations
  • complete any other course requirement because of your inability to meet the three items above.

We may refuse your application if it was already not practicable for you to meet the requirements of the course when your special circumstances emerged.

Special circumstances do not include a lack of knowledge or understanding of requirements under the schemes or your incapacity to repay a HELP debt.

You must have a final, non-passing grade published (i.e. WDR or NN) for the course/s you seek remission of debt in special circumstances for. 

Applications will not be accepted:

  • where you do not have a final, non-passing grade published
  • where you have successfully completed (i.e. passed) the course
  • where you have withdrawn from the course/s or applied for leave of absence before the relevant census date but believe your withdrawal/leave of absence has not been processed or has been processed incorrectly. Students in this situation should contact RMIT Connect to discuss the matter
  • from international students
  • from domestic full-fee paying students who did not successfully apply for a HELP loan or VET Student Loan before the relevant census date.

Please note, there is no refund for payment of your Student Services and Amenities Fee or remission of SA-HELP debt after the census date

For further information, refer to Remission and Removal of Debt Procedure.

Timeframe for applications

You can apply up to 12 months after:

  • The date you withdrew from the course (if you withdrew from it), or
  • The end date of the course (if you didn’t withdraw), or
  • The last date you were due to submit/complete an assessment in the course, if you were permitted to do this after the course end date

Applications submitted more than 12 months after the relevant date can be considered only if you can demonstrate (through formal, independent supporting documentation) circumstances which prevented you from submitting a timely application.

Applications may be submitted within 5 years in cases where a provider has not met its responsibilities in relation to the VET Student Loan rules. See the Australian Government Department of Employment and Workplace Relations' Debt complaints page for more information about unacceptable or inappropriate conduct under VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loan rules.

How to apply for remission of debt

  1. Complete the Application for Remission (Removal) of Debt in Special Circumstances Form (PDF, 542KB)
  2. Gather any independent supporting documents to confirm the circumstances and the dates they arose and/or intensified. The form includes examples of the type of evidence you need to provide. Please ensure all documents are in a readily accessible format (e.g. PDF, PNG, JPG, DOC). Unfortunately, we are unable to access documents that are uploaded to a cloud-based service such as Microsoft SharePoint or OneDrive and then attached as a link
  3. Email the completed form and supporting documents to

Once you’ve submitted your application, we’ll send you an acknowledgement of receipt.

We'll assess your application and let you know the outcome within 60 days of the date on which your application is complete.

Supporting documentation

It is essential to provide formal, independent documentation to support your application. A personal statement alone is not sufficient to support an application for remission of debt.

Each supporting document must:

  • be current, formal, independent and relevant to your circumstances
  • be dated and include the name and contact details of the person providing the evidence
  • demonstrate the required special circumstances criteria.

Fraudulent or misleading information

Falsifying documents is considered fraud under the Victorian Crimes Act 1958 and is treated very seriously. This includes:  

  • creating (or allowing another person to create) and providing forged or falsified documents (both medical and non-medical)
  • changing a supporting document provided by another person 
  • purchasing fraudulent documents from websites. 

If you’re having problems getting a suitable document, please contact us as soon as possible at to discuss your situation and options. 

The consequences for providing false or misleading information in an application or supporting documentation include, but are not limited to, failure for all or any part of an assessment task, failure of a course, suspension and expulsion. 

You must be aware of your obligations and responsibilities as an RMIT student under the RMIT Student Conduct Policy.

Additional information and requirements

  • Different documents may be required depending on the reasons for your application.
  • Where your supporting documentation is in a language other than English, you must provide an English translation by a NAATI-accredited translator.
  • Photographs and videos, e.g. of a family gathering, funeral or other event, should not be submitted as evidence in place of official documentation. Photographs and videos of a graphic nature, e.g. of a person, medical condition/injury, accident or other event, will not be accepted under any circumstances.
  • Unfortunately, we are unable to access documents that are uploaded to a cloud-based service such as Microsoft SharePoint or OneDrive and then provided as a link.
  • Retain original copies of all documents. We may request an original document if it’s needed to assess your application.
  • Statutory declarations are not accepted. A statutory declaration is a form of self-statement, albeit one witnessed by another person. It does not constitute formal, independent supporting. Detailed guidance on acceptable supporting documentation for a range of circumstances is provided below.
  • Patient declarations are not accepted. They usually do not express the medical opinion of a health practitioner that you were ill or detail their professional assessment of the type and level of impact of your circumstances on your ability to complete a course.
  • Letters from family and friends are not considered independent, therefore, you must provide other formal, independent supporting documents to evidence your circumstances.

Examples of supporting documents

Reason  Supporting documents
Medical or psychological

Ask your treating health practitioner to complete page 4 of the the Impact Assessment Statement (PDF, 45KB) and, if possible, provide a letter stating:

  • the date on which your health condition began or worsened
  • how your condition affected your ability to study and undertake assessment tasks. and
  • when it became apparent that you couldn’t continue your studies.

Provide a formal letter from a doctor or counsellor who is familiar with you circumstances stating:

  • the date on which your personal circumstance began or changed
  • how your circumstances affected your ability to study and undertake assessment tasks, and
  • when it became apparent that you couldn’t continue your studies.

Provide a formal letter from your employer that includes:

  • your previous work hours and location
  • your current work hours and/or location and the date they changed, and
  • the reason for the changed hours/location.

Please note, choosing to increase hours of work or to undertake additional employment is not considered a circumstance beyond a student's control.


Provide supporting documentation from your RMIT school or college demonstrating that the school/college changed the arrangements for your course after the census date with the effect that you were unable to complete the course.

If you did not follow advice from the University prior to the census date regarding withdrawal from your studies, and you later withdraw after the census date, this does not meet the remission criteria as it is not considered beyond your control.

Having failed a course due to academic misconduct is also not a special circumstance.

Review and appeals

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your application, you can apply to have the decision reviewed by an independent senior RMIT officer.

Review requests

Review requests must reach RMIT University within 28 days of the date of your outcome letter or it will not be considered (unless RMIT allows you further time). RMIT is not required to provide further time. RMIT will not generally allow further time for a review request to be submitted unless there are clear and exceptional circumstances that require further time being allowed. These circumstances may include:

  • where you provide sound evidence that you were or became incapacitated during the submission period, or
  • where you made a genuine effort to submit the review request during the review period, but the application did not reach RMIT for reasons outside of your control.

If you intend to submit a review request, but do not believe that you will be able to do so within the 28 day submission period, you should write to RMIT at as soon as possible after receiving the decision, providing clear reasons with all relevant evidence to support why exceptional circumstances exist in your case and RMIT should allow you further time to submit your review request. 

If you submit your review request outside of the 28 day submission period, you should provide clear reasons, with all relevant evidence, to support why exceptional circumstances exist in your case and RMIT should accept your review request outside of the 28 day submission period.

Your application outcome letter will also explain the process and time-frame for review requests. The RMIT Student Union Student Rights team can advise you about this process.

There is no charge for a review request.


If your application outcome is reviewed and you’re still dissatisfied, you can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a further review of the decision. The AAT charges a fee for their review. 

Please note, duplicate applications (for the same course/s and teaching period/s) will not be accepted or considered. Please follow the appropriate review pathways.

More information and contacts


Support services

  • Our support services are free for all RMIT students and include study support, financial advice and wellbeing services
  • RUSU Compass provides support and referrals for RMIT students
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