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What does the Budget 2014 mean for online students?

by Yvette Maurice

How will this most recent Budget affect current and prospective students? Open Colleges has put together a summary for everyone who is currently studying, or thinking of studying, after the Australian Government’s Budget 2014/15 announcements.

For many Australians, particularly working adults, the vocational system (including TAFEs and private colleges) is now more practical, relevant and cost effective than the university system.

This Budget will impact higher education with universities and private colleges now able to set their own fees. Previously university fees have been capped by the government, this will now change. There has been speculation in the media that cost for some Bachelor degrees may double or even triple, with some qualifications costing up to $120 000.

‘‘(University) fees will go up and they will go up quite significantly,” says Professor Chapman, director of policy impact at the Australian National University.

This could be good news for students that are considering studying at educational facilities other than universities, such as TAFEs or private colleges. The government intends to open up the education sector to further competition, which should mean better quality education for all as colleges and universities contend for students by improving their courses and competing on pricing.

Students at Open Colleges already enjoy payment plans and flexible pay arrangements. This is a great alternative to the previous HECS-HELP system for university students.

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“Open Colleges’ aim is to ensure that education is open to everyone. We are passionate about providing our students with terrific learning outcomes and an alternative in getting a quality education without going into debt that they won’t be able to pay back for, in many cases, years,” says Mark Rohald, Joint Chief Executive Officer of Open Colleges.

“We believe that opening up the education sector will only benefit learners – particularly those who are concerned about rising university fees.”

Benefit for prospective Open Colleges students:

  • If you are planning on studying to gain skills for your current job your tuition fees may be tax deductible. You may be entitled to a tax refund in your 2013/2014 income tax return if you pay before the end of the financial year: June, 30th 2014.
  • By enrolling now with Open Colleges you could save a substantial amount on your self-education expenses, including Open Colleges’ course fees, where you are eligible to claim a tax deduction in your 2013/2014 income tax return.

Do you need more information?

A summary of the changes to the education sector:

  • The 20% loan fee on VET FEE-HELP will be removed in 2015, which may result in providers raising fees.
  • Interest on VET FEE-HELP loans will no longer be indexed to the Consumer Price Index ‘CPI’ (currently 2.9%), but to the rate equivalent to the yields on 10 year bonds issued by the Australian Government, which may increase above the CPI resulting in increasing loan amounts.
  • Apprentices may be able to access a loan scheme similar to a FEE-HELP style loan called the Trade Support Loans Programme, which is to encourage apprentices to successfully complete their training.

 

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