Debt complaints

This page provides information about VET FEE-HELP and VET Student Loans debt issues and complaints, including complaints about providers.

On this page:

Historical VET loan transfer

For advice to VET students seeing historical loan amounts appearing on their ATO record please read Transfer of historical loan records for VET students.

Information about your debt

You can log onto the myHelpbalance portal and see how much you have already borrowed by exporting your full loans history.

The details of your debt will show you:

  • the course/s and units of study for which you incurred the debt
  • through which training provider you incurred your debt and
  • which year you incurred the debt.

To log into myHelpbalance, you will need your Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN). Your CHESSN is a unique identifier you will have for your whole student life. You can find it on your Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN) given to you by your provider.

If you can't find your CAN or CHESSN, ask your provider. If you do not know your CHESSN and cannot contact your provider, please email to request your CHESSN, noting that you will have to provide personal information to verify your identity.

Please note that myHelpbalance does not show you:

  • how much you owe
  • the indexation of your debt, or
  • any loan fees you have paid.

To see how much you owe log into your myGov account.

If you do not have a myGov account, you can set one up by following the instructions on the ATO website, or you can call the ATO on 13 28 61.

Debt complaint

Contact your training provider

After viewing myHelpbalance you will know the name of the training provider associated with your debt. In most cases, the fastest way to resolve your debt grievance is to go directly to your training provider.

All training providers are required to have a formal complaints process. The provider's complaints handling process must accept your complaint about your VET FEE‑HELP debt or VET Student Loans debt. A provider can cancel a VET FEE-HELP debt or VET Student Loans debt depending on the nature of the complaint.

You can ask for a review of the decision if you are not satisfied with how the training provider has dealt with your complaint. All providers are required to have an internal and external review process as part of their formal complaints process.

Remission of debt

Your VET FEE‑HELP or VET Student Loans debt may be remitted if your circumstances meet existing requirements, which include:

  • withdrawal before the census day
  • special circumstances
  • unacceptable conduct
  • inappropriate conduct under VET FEE-HELP.

Withdrawal before the census day

You should not incur any loan debt for units of study you enrolled in, but formally withdrew from, before the census day. Check with your provider what their process is. If this has happened to you, raise it with your provider through their formal complaints process and ask for the VET FEE-HELP/VET Student Loans debt to be cancelled.

If you believe that your provider has not been helpful, you can contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman.

Special circumstances

All training providers must have a process in place for you to request the cancellation of your debt if, after you started to study, certain ‘special circumstances’ occurred.

Special circumstances are not all circumstances but only those circumstances (such as illness or a motor vehicle accident) that are:

  • beyond your control
  • occurred or worsened after the census date and
  • prevented you from doing further study.

Please note you cannot apply for the cancellation of your debt because of 'special circumstances' for units of study that you have successfully completed.

Time limits apply for applying to your provider for debt cancellation under special circumstances:

  • for VET FEE-HELP – applications must be made within 12 months of your formal withdrawal from the unit of study or from the end of the unit if no withdrawal occurred
  • for VET Student Loans – applications must be made within 12 months of the census day for the unit.

Your provider may give you more time if it was not possible for you to apply within the 12-month period.

If you think special circumstances may apply to you, you will need to complete your provider's special circumstances form and submit the form to your provider.

If you are not satisfied with how your provider has dealt with your special circumstances request, you can ask your provider to review their decision.

If you are still not satisfied following an internal review by your provider, you can then apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in your state or territory to have your provider's decision reviewed.

Unacceptable conduct

You may request the Secretary of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (the department) to cancel your VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loans debt if your provider has engaged in 'unacceptable conduct' under the legislation.

Unacceptable conduct only applies to:

  • conduct that occurred after 1 January 2016 and
  • conduct that falls within the definition of ‘unacceptable conduct’ in the legislation—for example, harassment or coercion by a provider or conduct that is misleading, deceptive or unconscionable.

Time limits apply to submission of unacceptable conduct re-credit applications:

  • for VET FEE-HELP – applications must be made within 3 years after the period during which you undertook, or were to undertake, the unit of study, unless it was not possible for the application to be made during those 3 years
  • for VET Student Loans – applications must be made within 5 years of the census day for the unit, or within the period as extended by the Secretary of the department.

The VET Student Loans Ombudsman has responsibility for considering complaints under unacceptable conduct provisions.

If you think this may apply to you, you should submit a complaint to the VET Student Loans Ombudsman through its website.

Inappropriate conduct under VET FEE-HELP

The Australian Government has introduced new legislation to provide a remedy for students who incurred a VET FEE-HELP debt because of inappropriate behaviour by some VET FEE-HELP providers (or their agents).

This legislation allows debts to be remitted if the conduct of the provider is determined to be inappropriate.

If you believe that your issue has not been addressed and further action is required, you can contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman or call 1300 362 072.

The role of the VET Student Loans Ombudsman is to manage and investigate complaints regarding both the VET FEE-HELP scheme and the VET Student Loans program.

The Ombudsman is separate from the department and has its own legal powers to investigate and deal with enquiries and complaints.

Cancelled debt still showing in myHELPbalance and MyGov

When a provider re-credits your VET FEE-HELP/VET Student Loans balance and remits the debt, the provider must tell the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (the department). Providers submit data to the department monthly. The department will advise the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which then applies the revision to your tax records.

Please note: it may take some time before a debt cancellation shows in your ATO record.

If your provider confirms they have submitted a revision file to the department, you may wish to contact the ATO and advise that a revisions file has been forwarded to the department in relation to your debt. If you have concerns, you can discuss options available to you with the ATO regarding your tax matters.

Due to a retrospective validation process applied to data reported by providers, this may result in the data being revised up to 8 weeks after it has been reported. The revised data is then transferred to the ATO.

Contact details for the ATO:

Please note: the ATO will conduct identification checks for your enquiry, so remember to have your Tax File Number handy.

If you believe your provider has not been cooperative about a request to cancel your debt you can contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman.

Complaints about providers

If your complaint is about the quality of the course, the teachers or the course materials, you should make a complaint to the national VET regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).

ASQA uses information from the complaints process to determine how it regulates certain providers. Should you have concerns regarding your experiences, you may wish to submit a formal complaint to ASQA via their complaints page.

Alternatively, you can contact the National Training Complaints Hotline on 13 38 73.

If the complaint is not about the quality of the course and your provider has not been helpful, or if the provider has closed and you are unable to obtain any information from them, you may wish to contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman to discuss the complaints process.

Training provider closure

Information about tuition protection and the options available to students is available on the Tuition Protection and Provider Default page.

If you are a VSL student whose provider has closed or ceased delivering a course, please visit Tuition Protection Service for more information.

If you were a VET FEE-HELP student whose provider closed, visit the VSLO website for more information or call the VSLO on 1300 362 072 (select option 2).

If you have a debt grievance and your training provider is no longer operating, you can contact the VET Student Loans Ombudsman to discuss the complaints process.

Complaints about department

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations has mechanisms in place for receiving feedback on our programs and services, as it is integral to our on-going improvement. 

If you wish to make a complaint about the department’s actions or decisions in relation to your VET Student Loan or VET FEE-HELP debt, please read the department’s Complaints Factsheet. The factsheet provides information on how the department manages feedback and complaints. To make a complaint about the department after reading the Complaints Factsheet, you can email

To ensure we fully understand the nature of your complaint, in addition to a description of the nature and basis of your complaint, we encourage you to include your first and last name; CHESSN or USI and a way to be contacted so we may work with you on a suitable outcome. You may wish to make your complaint anonymously; however, this may limit the department's ability to properly investigate and respond to your complaint. 

The Commonwealth Ombudsman can also investigate complaints about the actions and decisions of Australian Government agencies to see if they are wrong, unjust, unlawful, discriminatory or just plain unfair. However, you must raise your formal complaint with the department first and seek to resolve the complaint with the department. If you are not satisfied with the outcome you may wish to contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman. For more information refer to Home - Commonwealth Ombudsman.