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Veterans' Children Education Scheme (VCES)

Legislative Authority

Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986
Section 116 (eligibility)
117 (scheme)
Section 118 (benefits)

Veterans’ Children Education Scheme Instrument 1992


Stated Current Purpose/Intent

To provide financial assistance and student support services, and arrange for guidance and counselling for eligible children, to help them achieve their full potential in education, or career training.


Current Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible, a student is generally aged under 25 years and be a child of a veteran or a member of the Forces or of a Peacekeeping Force:

  • who is receiving (or was receiving prior to their death) a disability pension:
  • at the special rate;
  • at the EDA rate; or
  • at an increased rate because of certain amputations or blindness in one eye (items 1-6 of VEA section 27); or
  • whose death was war-caused; or
  • who was an Australian prisoner of war and is now deceased.

Also eligible are students whose veteran parent had operational service but whose death was not war-caused and who have also lost their other parent.  This loss may be through death or where the surviving parent is not maintaining them.

A student who is the child of a Vietnam veteran (or who is, or has been, dependent on a Vietnam veteran) but who does not qualify under any of the above criteria may be eligible in certain circumstances. The student will need to be assessed by an appropriately qualified professional and approved as a ‘eligible child’ by the Commissions.


Date of Introduction



Original Purpose/Intent

The scheme was originally known as the Soldiers' Children Education Scheme (SCES).  The purpose of the scheme was to provide support services and financial assistance to children of eligible veterans and members of the Forces, to help them achieve their full educational or training potential and prepare them for suitable careers.  The Scheme was consistent with other Commonwealth education assistance schemes.


Significant Changes in Criteria or Purpose Since Introduction


The SCES was replaced by the VCES in May.


Children of deceased EDA veterans gain eligibility.


From January, the Scheme was revised, as follows:

  • It is now a compensatory scheme.
  • As there is no way of testing whether or not a child is "prepared for a suitable career" that requirement has now been removed.
  • The income test for students over 16 years was abolished.

In June, the Australian Mariners' Children Education Scheme (AMCES) was introduced.  The AMCES provides the same benefits as the VCES but it only applied to eligible children of Australian mariners.


From 1 July 1994, the SWPA Act and Regulations were repealed and Australian mariners became eligible under the VEA on the same basis as veterans.  The AMCES was abolished, and children of Australian mariners became eligible under the VCES.


From 1 July 1998, students aged 16 and over and in receipt of a “living away from home” rate of education allowance became eligible for rent assistance on the same basis as Youth Allowance recipients.


From 1 January 2000, VCES benefits were extended to the children of veterans receiving disability pension at the EDA rate.


A 2006-07 Federal Budget initiative increased the number of Long Tan bursaries from 30 to 50, and the value from $6,000 to $9,000 over three years.


From 1 January 2010, eligible students enrolled in an approved scholarship course at a higher education institution can receive a Student Start-Up Scholarship.  In addition, those living away from home or in receipt of the homeless or orphan rates can receive a Relocation Scholarship.


From 1 January 2012, the rates of the Student Start-up and Relocation Scholarships were adjusted to allow for a new second tier rate of Relocation Scholarship to be paid to students in their second and third year of studying away from home.

Clean energy advance payable for the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 for eligible recipients.

On 18 June 2012, a one-off Education Tax Refund (ETR) payment of $409 for primary school students and $818 for secondary school students was paid to education allowance recipients (as at 8 May 2012).  This replaced the former Education Tax Refund claimable through the Australian Taxation Office and covered 2011-12.  This was paid under the VEA and MRCA.

On 1 October 2012, some further ETR payments were made under an Administrative Scheme to those who were not eligible for the June ETR payment but would otherwise have been able to claim under their tax returns for 2011-12, mainly school leavers.  This was paid under family assistance legislation.


Indexation of the Student Start-up Scholarship is paused for 4 years from 1 January 2013.  The next indexation date is 1 January 2017.

From January 2013, Schoolkids Bonus payable each January and July for those in receipt of education allowance on 1 January or 30 June and at school.  This is paid under social security and family assistance legislation.  Also payable to Department of Human Services Family Tax Benefit clients.

From March 2013, Income Support Bonus payable each March and September for 16 year olds and over and certain eligible under 16 year old students in receipt of education allowance on 20 March or 20 September and in secondary or tertiary education.  It is for those relying mainly on government allowances and is to help with unexpected expenses.  Also payable to Department of Human Services allowance clients such as Newstart and ABSTUDY.

Second clean energy advance payable in July 2013 for the period 1 July 2013 to 31 December 2013.


Clean energy supplement commenced 1 January 2014.

Clean energy supplement replaced by energy supplement commenced 20 September 2014.


The Coronavirus Supplement commences from 27 April 2020 for a six month period.


The Coronavirus Supplement is payable to new and existing recipients who recieve the education allowance at a similar rate to Youth Allowance.