New rules for the repayment of Trade Support Loan (TSL) debt, as offered by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training to all apprentices, are now in force. Until now, bricklaying and other apprentices who took out a loan and moved overseas did not have to repay their debt as long as they remained offshore. The key changes that make it fairer for all are:
1. From 1 January 2016, people with a TSL debt who leave Australia and intend to be overseas for more than six months, or who have already been overseas for six months, will be required to register their details with the Australian Taxation Office.
2. From 1 July 2017, people overseas who have a TSL debt will be obliged to make compulsory repayments on their loan if they earn above the repayment income. For the 2015–16 financial year this threshold is $54,126.
The Australian Apprenticeships TSL has been in place since July 2014 and many bricklaying apprentices are benefiting from it, purchasing tools and for assistance with other expenses which make their apprenticeship possible. Note importantly that the incentives for apprentices to complete the qualification still remain – a 20 per cent discount will be applied to a loan when the person has successfully completed the bricklaying qualification.
Ensuring that apprentices and students are aware of their obligations before they take out a loan is important. Apprentices, particularly those under the age of 18, need to be aware of the financial ramifications of taking out the loan.
Recovering loan debt from overseas residents makes the system fairer for everyone, and will help improve the sustainability of Australia’s income-contingent student loan system.
The Department of Education and Training, the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will share data to support overseas TSL debt recovery arrangements. The Government is also considering entering into debt recovery arrangements with the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Ensuring that people living overseas and earning above the minimum repayment threshold repay their debt will help make these loan programmes sustainable into the future and also fairer for everyone. For more information about Trade Support Loans visit www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au/content/trade-support-loans.
The same changes apply to loans taken out under the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP).