Financial aid

OS-HELP Loan

Further information

Contact

Australian Government - Study Assist website

OS-HELP funding is a Government loan scheme to assist eligible Australian students, enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place, who wish to undertake an overseas experience as part of their UWA degree.

This program is funded by the Australian Government with assistance provided by the UWA Financial Aid Office.

  1. Loan amount
  2. Eligibility
  3. Closing dates
  4. Application process
  5. Assessment and selection criteria
  6. Repayments
  7. Appeals

Loan amount

Eligible students may apply to borrow between $1000 and $6,470 in 2016 (indexed annually) per six-month study period, with the exception of students undertaking overseas study in Asia, who may apply for:

  • an increased maximum loan amount of $7,764 if studying in an eligible Asian country; and
  • a supplementary loan amount of $1,035 to assist with the cost of language study undertaken in preparation for overseas study in Asia.

Eligible students may receive up to 2 OS-HELP loans in their lifetime; however the second loan cannot be for an overseas study period which commences less than 6 months and one day after the first. There is no loan fee applied to OS-HELP loans and the amount you borrow will be added to your HECS debt.

If you are going overseas for two consecutive semesters, you may apply for two loans and need to complete two debt confirmation forms. However, the second loan will not be considered until you have successfully completed your first semester of overseas study. You will need to send us an academic transcript from the overseas institution, or a letter, confirming that you have successfully completed the first semester and confirmation from them that you will be undertaking a further semester of studies overseas.

You may only apply for the maximum amount of OS-HELP relating to the period in which your application will be processed (i.e. applications that will be processed during 2016 can be for no more than $6,470 for non-Asian study & $7,764 + $1,035 if studying a preparatory Asian language course).

The total amount of OS-HELP assistance approved for each applicant is dependent on the total OS-HELP funding available to The University. Any amount approved for the purpose of study for a lesser duration than one full semester may be pro-rata based on the maximum loan amount available for a 6-month period of overseas study, dependent upon funds available.

Eligibility

To be eligible for OS-HELP, you must:

  • be an Australian citizen or the holder of a permanent humanitarian visa, or a New Zealand Special Category Visa holder who meets the long-term residency requirements (see StudyAssist for more information);
  • have already completed at least one EFTSL (one year of full-time study or 48 credit points) in Australia that counts towards your current UWA course, as a Commonwealth supported student (if undertaking an Honours component of an undergraduate course, the entire undergraduate course may be considered for the purposes of assessing eligibility for OS HELP);
  • be an enrolled UWA Commonwealth supported student approved to undertake a period of overseas study which will be credited towards your current UWA degree;
  • be studying on an approved exchange program, undertaking an overseas professional placement (clinical/industry/internship), fieldwork program or other course or unit that will count towards the course in which you are currently enrolled at UWA, and be outside Australia while undertaking that period of study or placement;
  • be in good standing with no encumbrances;
  • meet the Australian TFN requirements;
  • still have at least 0.125 EFTSL or 6 credit points to complete in your current UWA course on completion of the overseas period; and
  • not have received OS-HELP on more than one previous occasion, including from another higher education provider (individuals may only receive a maximum of two OS-HELP loans in their lifetime).

Loans for study in Asia:

  • If applying for an increased loan amount for study in Asia, a student will be considered to be undertaking overseas study in Asia if they are undertaking study in at least one of the following countries only: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Timor-Leste, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • If applying for the supplementary loan to assist with the cost of language study undertaken in preparation for overseas study in Asia, the Asian language study must not be taken as part of a course of study leading to a higher education award in respect of which the student is in receipt of Commonwealth assistance.

If your overseas experience will carry credit towards your UWA course, it must be the equivalent of a full-time study load (or at least 0.75 EFTSL).  Basically, this means that your overseas period may be eligible if the credit you can expect to receive for it is greater than or equal to (≥) or at least 75% of the sum of the actual duration of study or practical experience (in weeks), divided by (÷) the typical duration of an academic semester (in weeks), multiplied by (×) the credit that a full-time student would expect to receive in a standard academic semester (see diagram below). So, if you will study or attend a placement overseas for 6 weeks and you will receive 12 credit points towards your UWA degree for that overseas experience you may be eligible, since 12 points is greater than the sum of 6 ÷ 13 x 24. If you are still unsure contact the Financial Aid Office.

Credit that a student can expect to receive for the overseas period Actual duration of overseas period (in weeks) Divided by × Minimum credit that a full-time student would receive in a standard academic semester (currently 24 points)
Typical duration of a standard academic semester (13 weeks)

[ ‘≥’ means greater than or equal to;   ‘×’ means multiply ]

For further information on OS-HELP and eligibility visit the Study Assist website.

Students pursuing short-term and independent overseas study can apply for OS-HELP provided that the overseas study will count towards your final result at UWA and you meet all other OS-HELP eligibility criteria. If you will undertake an overseas study period of a lesser duration than one semester of full-time study you may still be eligible for an OS-HELP loan if the overseas study is a requirement of your current UWA course and is comparable to an EFTSL over the same period. There may be exceptions. This means if you will study overseas on a short course of only 6 weeks and this will carry at least 12 credit points, provided you meet all other eligibility criteria you will still be eligible for an OS-HELP loan but any amount approved may be pro-rata based on the maximum amount available for a 6-month period.  A completed Faculty Approval form is required for any overseas study other than an Exchange through the Global Learning Office.

Students undertaking an overseas elective placement may apply for OS-HELP if the placement will count towards the final outcome of your UWA degree. A Faculty Approval form will be required with your application for assistance.

To be eligible for OS-HELP, including other criteria you must have at least 0.125 EFTSL of study remaining (6 credit points) at UWA following overseas study and the overseas study undertaken must count as credit towards your current UWA degree.

You should be aware that The University can only approve a certain amount of loans each year based on the amount The Commonwealth allocates us for OS-HELP loans. Loans are approved on the basis of priority, including current course of study, type, duration and location of placement. Students on an official Exchange through Study Abroad will be given priority for loans. Approved loans may not necessarily be to the value of the loan request.

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Application closing dates

As applications are processed as we receive them you may apply for an OS-HELP loan at any time up to the closing dates below. However, loans will not be issued more than 5 months before your overseas period commences.

  • Applications for loans for overseas study in Semester 2 of the current year or over the winter vacation period should usually be submitted by 31 May. Applications received up to and including this date will usually be processed within 4-weeks of receipt (there are exceptions). Applications will usually be processed as they are received during semester 1.
  • Applications for loans for overseas study in Semester 1 of the following year or over the summer vacation close 31 October. Applications received up to and including this date will usually be processed within 4-weeks of receipt (there are exceptions).

We recommend that you do not leave your application for OS-HELP until the last minute before you depart overseas as processing time can be upwards of 6 weeks after the closing date.

Where available funds are in surplus following the application closing date, an extension for applications may be granted. Announcements will be made where applications will continue to be accepted.

Please note that while you can submit an application at any time during the academic year, your application will may not be processed for approval until the closing date for that semester.

Applications can be submitted without proof of acceptance from the host university or placement provider. If you are eligible we can simply approve your loan in principle but hold payment until you provide us with a copy of your acceptance from the host university or placement provider.

Loans will not be approved for payment until we receive ALL of the required evidence.

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Application process

Application forms for OS-HELP can be obtained from the Financial Aid Office, or you can download an OS-HELP application form below in PDF format. If your loan is approved you will be required to complete and submit an OS-HELP debt confirmation form which is only available from the Financial Aid Office or from some newsagents. This form must be completed in ballpoint pen using BLOCK LETTERS. If applying for two consecutive loans you will need to complete a second debt confirmation form, but as you will be overseas when we review your second loan you may choose to leave the amount blank on this form to avoid the need to complete a fresh form if you are not loaned the amount applied for.  Students who will study overseas independently (i.e. not through a formal exchange program) and medicine students undertaking an overseas elective will also be required to have an OS-HELP Faculty Approval form signed off by their Faculty.

The personal information collected on your OS-HELP application form is collected for the purpose of determining your eligibility for OS-HELP assistance. If you provide false or misleading information in applications for OS-HELP, we may be required to disclose information contained in your application to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. We may also be required to disclose your personal information as otherwise authorised or required by law.

If you are applying for two OS-HELP loans to cover two consecutive periods of overseas study, you must complete both sections on the application form and two OS-HELP debt confirmation forms. We need the original signed documents. Your second application will only be considered once you have provided us with an academic transcript from the overseas institution, or a letter, confirming that you have successfully completed the first semester. Before we can approve a second loan, we also require confirmation from the overseas institution that you will be undertaking a further semester of studies with them.

The Debt Confirmation Form must be completed in ballpoint pen using BLOCK LETTERS.

Second loans for students already overseas will not be processed where there is less than 5 weeks of study remaining at the overseas institution.

Applications must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office with a copy of a letter from the Global Learning Office and/or Faculty confirming your overseas period of study, and a copy of the letter of acceptance from the overseas institution where you will undertake the period of study or placement. Official email confirmation is also acceptable.

  • Applications must be completed in full and signed prior to lodgement (applications that are not signed will not be processed).
  • A copy of your bank statement must be provided to verify the bank details entered on your application are correct.
  • You should include with your application, a costing of your proposed overseas study period to show any associated study fees and costs for flights, accommodation and living expenses.
  • If your OS-HELP loan is approved you will be asked to submit an OS-HELP debt confirmation form before any amount can be paid into your bank account. You may collect this form at the time you submit your application, but you must not complete the loan amount until we tell you the amount of any approved loan. The Debt Confirmation Form must be completed in ballpoint pen using BLOCK LETTERS.

Where you have not yet received your confirmed offer from the overseas provider, we will accept your application but if you are eligible we can only approve any loan in principle until you can provide us with a copy of your overseas offer.

OS-HELP applicants must complete an OS-HELP debt confirmation form as part of the application process.  This form is self-carbonating so is only available as a hard copy from our office and is not available as a downloadable electronic version. You will be asked to submit this form once we have assessed your application and can tell you the amount we are able to approve.  If you prefer to submit this form at the time of applying you will need to leave the amount blank on this form to avoid the need to complete a fresh form if you are not loaned the full amount requested. By leaving the amount blank you give us permission to enter the loan amount on your behalf.

Your completed OS-HELP application form and essential documents should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office before the appropriate closing date by mail or in person to:

Financial Aid Officer
Student Support Services M302
1st floor - Student Central
University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009

Please don't submit original copies of bank statements and offer letters etc. as we are unable to send them back to you in the event that you need them for other purposes.

 

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Assessment and selection criteria

The assessment and selection criteria for the provision of OS-HELP loans will be based on merit. Students will be assessed for their eligibility for OS-HELP assistance not more than five months in advance of the commencement of their overseas study.

OS-HELP is available for a six month period of study which commences on the first day that a student begins their study with an overseas higher education institution.

The OS-HELP loan is provided for the six-month period regardless of the actual duration of the study.

Second loans for students already overseas will not be processed where there is less than 6 weeks of study remaining at the overseas institution.

Once a loan is approved, funds will be transferred directly into the student’s nominated bank account. This can take up to 6 weeks from the date of approval.

While we will endeavour to approve loans before the anticipated departure for the period of overseas study, we cannot guarantee this.

 

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Repayments

A student will be required to pay their OS-HELP debt even if they do not complete their studies or, due to unforeseen circumstances, cannot undertake or complete the approved overseas study.

An OS-HELP debt cannot be remitted under any circumstances.

A student’s OS-HELP debt is incurred as part of their accumulated HELP debt recorded by the Australian Taxation Office. Students repay their accumulated HELP debt through the taxation system once their income is above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayments or by voluntary repayments directly to the Australian Tax Office.

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Appeals

If an OS-HELP application is declined, students have the right to appeal in writing to the Executive Officer of the OS-HELP Selection Committee.

The appeal must state precisely the grounds on which it is made.

It must be lodged with the Student Financial Aid Officer, no later than seven working days after receipt of the decision.

Your written appeal should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office by mail or in person to:
 
Financial Aid Officer
Student Support Services M302
1st floor - Student Central
University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009

For more information on OS-HELP, visit the Federal Government's Study Assist website.

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