Commonwealth supported places
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What is a Commonwealth supported place?
A Commonwealth supported place is a subsidised enrolment at university*. The Australian Government subsidises a Commonwealth supported place by paying part of the fees for the place directly to the university and the student pays the remainder of the fees through a 'student contribution' amount.
*Commonwealth supported places are available at all public universities and at a handful of private higher education providers (providers) in national priority areas (nursing and education).
Commonwealth supported places are only available to domestic students. Most undergraduate students studying at university are enrolled in Commonwealth supported places. Since 1 January 2012, there has no longer been a cap to the amount of study you can undertake as a Commonwealth supported student.
Being eligible does not guarantee that you will be offered a Commonwealth supported place in the course of your choice or at your chosen provider. Applications are assessed by providers, and offers are based on merit as students must also meet the course entry requirements set by the provider. If successful, your provider will let you know in writing whether you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place.
Only some providers offer Commonwealth supported places at the postgraduate level. Most postgraduate courses at universities are offered as fee paying, but you will need to check with your provider to see if it offers Commonwealth supported place for the postgraduate course you intend to study.Return to top
Am I eligible for a Commonwealth supported place?
To be eligible for a Commonwealth supported place, you must:
- be an Australian citizen, a New Zealand citizen or the holder of a permanent visa;
- meet the citizenship and residency requirements;
- enrol with a provider in each unit, by the census date;
- read the Information for Commonwealth supported students and HECS-HELP booklet;
- submit a valid Request for Commonwealth support and HECS-HELP form to your provider by the census date (or earlier administrative date); and
- finalise your payment arrangements for your student contributions by the census date.
Australian citizens will only be eligible for a Commonwealth supported place if their provider reasonably expects the person will undertake some of their course of study in Australia. If you intend on studying overseas via distance education for your entire course then you would not meet these residency requirements.
You will not meet the residency requirements if your provider reasonably expects that you will not be in Australia undertaking any units contributing to the course of study in which you are enrolled.
New Zealand citizens and permanent visa holders must be resident in Australia for the duration of their unit(s). Any period of residence outside Australia will be disregarded if:
- it cannot reasonably be regarded as indicating an intention to reside outside Australia for the duration of the unit; or
- it is required for the purpose of completing a requirement of that unit.
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Eligible Commonwealth supported students (Australian citizens and permanent humanitarian visa holders) can use a HECS-HELP loan to help them pay their student contributions. For information on your eligibility to access HECS-HELP, see the HECS-HELP page.Return to top
Do I have to accept a Commonwealth supported place?
Some students choose not to accept a Commonwealth supported place for a number of different reasons. However, these places are much cheaper than fee paying places.
If you don't want to accept a Commonwealth supported place, or if you want to be Commonwealth supported for only some of your units, you need to inform your provider of this in writing by the census date or administrative date for the relevant study period. Keep in mind that your provider does not have to offer you a fee paying place instead.Return to top
What if I'm not Commonwealth supported?
If you are not enrolled as a Commonwealth supported student, you will be enrolled as a fee paying student. This means the Government does not subsidise your education and you will need to pay the tuition fees set by your provider. Some fee paying students are eligible for a FEE-HELP loan to pay their tuition fees.Return to top