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9.8.4 Payment of tertiary education and training course fees
It is preferred that education and training approved as part of a DVA rehabilitation program are undertaken through an institution which enables access to Commonwealth assistance for the course of study.
Commonwealth assistance is provided through the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). HELP is an Australian Government loan program to help eligible students pay their student contributions (HECS-HELP); tuition fees (FEE-HELP or VET Student Loans); and/or student services and amenities fees (SA-HELP). These loans are repaid through the Australian tax system. If the request for tertiary education is approved by DVA, the student contribution, tuition fee, and/or student services and amenities fee will be the amount DVA contributes.
How is education and training funded by DVA?
There are two methods in which an amount owed by DVA for a client’s approved education and/or training can be paid. In both circumstances, the costs of the course fees needs to be included as a third party cost to a rehabilitation plan in ISH.
Option 1: Payment made at completion of study period
This is the preferred approach.
Payment for a unit of study is made once the client successfully completes each unit of study. This is the preferred option, and requires Commonwealth assistance to be accessed so the client is not out of pocket for course fees.
Option 2: Payment made up front for the study period
Payment for each unit of study is made "up front" before the client has completed the relevant unit/s of study. Rehabilitation Coordinators are asked to note that the 10% upfront payment discount ceased on 1 January 2017 which means this option is no longer the most cost effective method of payment.
Where DVA has already paid for a unit of study which the client has subsequently failed, or withdrawn from after the census date, DVA has the discretion to not pay for further units the client enrolls in.
Regardless of the option pursued, the following steps should be followed:
Clients need to provide their academic transcript to their rehabilitation provider for forwarding to DVA as soon as it is received at the end of each study period (eg: semester or trimester). Note: a client’s ability to maintain a pass standard for their units of study may affect whether DVA will continue to fund their studies.
Rehabilitation providers should upload the transcript to R&C ISH through the Provider Upload Portal. DVA rehabilitation coordinators can provide rehabilitation providers with information about how to upload to R&C ISH and the Transaction Reference Number (TRN) to be used for the individual client.
Under what circumstances will DVA pay for course fees?
Where DVA is funding study for a client, it is expected that clients will successfully complete the course requirements and achieve a pass grade or above for each subject, in each study period they are undertaking.
DVA will not fund failed, incomplete, deferred, withdrawn or repeated units without considering evidence which justifies why funding should continue. More information on this can be found in the section below titled ‘Managing failed or repeated units of study’.
For more information about a client and rehabilitation providers obligations when participating in study funded through DVA, please see the D9303 Tertiary Education Assistance Agreement Form signed by and agreed to by the client prior to commencing their course of study. This form is available on the DVA forms portal.
Managing failed or repeated units of study
Where clients are experiencing difficulties with their studies, they are expected to:
- Take full advantage of support services offered through their study institution. This may include, though is not necessarily limited to:
- Academic support services – services such as tutoring, extensions on assignments, re-sitting exams etc.
- Administrative support – assistance to enrol in units, withdrawing from units before the census date, appealing failed units etc.
- Disability support services - providing services like disability parking stickers and organising a scribe for an exam.
- Child support services – some institutions offer child care for students and these options should be investigated where the client has child care responsibilities.
- Notify their rehabilitation provider as soon as possible of any circumstances which may impact their ability to successfully complete their studies.
Clients are expected to take a proactive approach in managing any challenges that arise which may impact their ability to meet the requirements of their course of study. For example seeking extensions for assessment due dates, withdrawal prior to the university census date, or other alternatives in order to avoid failing a unit could be pursued by the client.
Where a client is showing signs that they are struggling to successfully complete their course requirements, it is expected that the rehabilitation provider will also be proactive in assisting the client to put strategies in place to address these issues. Rehabilitation providers have a responsibility to be aware of the student support services offered by the university at which the client is studying and ensure the client is accessing these as required.
If a client fails a unit, does not complete a unit, needs to defer a unit, or withdraws after the census date, this does not mean that DVA will immediately cease supporting the client’s study. DVA will consider any unexpected or extenuating circumstances that may have impacted on a person’s ability to successfully meet course requirements, as well as the efforts made to seek support or negotiate options through student support services offered by the education institutions, and the client’s rehabilitation provider.
If a client fails or withdraws from a unit, they will be expected to:
- research their institution’s appeal policy to explore the possibility of re-sitting an exam, completing a supplementary assessment or having the fail grade amended to a withdrawal (if they failed);
- liaise with their institution to understand the academic implications of the fail or withdrawal on their ability to continue with their course; and
- explore the university support services available for use in the future.
If no unexpected situations have arisen and the client has not shown a clear commitment to meeting the course requirements or seeking additional support, the rehabilitation coordinator has the discretion to decide that DVA will no longer provide funding for the course of study. It is the role of the DVA rehabilitation coordinator, and not the rehabilitation provider, to inform the client of any decisions regarding cessation of support for their studies.
As a general rule, DVA will only accept two failed subjects before ceasing to support a client’s ongoing study. If a client fails or withdraws from a second unit after the census date in any subsequent study period, DVA will consider evidence from the client’s rehabilitation provider before making a determination. It is important to note that DVA is under no obligation to continue to support the client’s education however, the circumstances of each case are different and this must be managed on a case-by-case basis.
Where the client began their course prior to 29 May 2017, the decision, together with the reasons for ceasing the funding must be clearly communicated to the client and detailed notes must be recorded in the employee notes on Defcare. Where a client's study was approved after 29 May 2017, the determination, together with detailed case notes, must be recorded in the client's R&C ISH case and any relevant documentation about the decision uploaded as an attachment to R&C ISH.