Understand the eCAF process

The electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) is required to be completed by eligible students wanting to:

  • accept a Commonwealth supported place (CSP); and/or
  • use HECS-HELPFEE-HELP, or SA-HELP for the payment of their tuition fee; or
  • have been approved for overseas study and wish to access an OS-HELP loan.

So we know whether you wish to pay up-front or defer your liability through HECS-HELP, all commonwealth supported students must submit an electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) to indicate how you will pay your student contribution amount.

Here's how:

Step 1

Fill out the Request for Commonwealth Assistance Form

Log in to the student portal and select Request eCAF from the My Account card on the homepage.

Fee paying students will see this messaging on the dashboard:

Commonwealth support students will see this message on their dashboard:

Next, read through the information carefully, answering any applicable questions and confirming the pre-populated information.

A screenshot of the form students fill out as part of completing the eCAF form. The student will need to select the options based on their personal circumstances, e.g. Australian citizen questions in the Request for Commonwealth Assistance form will differ from those asked of a New Zealand citizen.

When you are sure the information is correct, select submit to complete your application.

Step 2

Check your email

Once you’ve submitted your Request for electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form, you’ll receive an email from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment containing a passkey, link and steps to complete your electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form.

It can take up to 24 hours to receive a confirmation email from the Government system.

Step 3

Complete your electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF)

You’ll need:

  • Your passkey. This is a unique code emailed to you from the Australian government
  • a Tax File Number (or Certificate of Application for TFN) if you are deferring some or all of your fees and
  • Your Unique Student Identifier (USI)

Read through the information carefully, answering any applicable questions and confirming the pre-populated information.

Once you are happy everything is in order, select submit to finalise your government eCAF request.

Step 4

Confirm your eCAF submission has been received

Once you have submitted your government eCAF, you’ll receive an email confirming your personal details, course and fee payment information.

If you can't see the confirmation email, check your junk mail or spam folder. You can also add ecafsystem@education.gov.au to your safe sender list to ensure the confirmation email arrives in your Inbox.

You'll need:

  • Your tax file number

    You must have a Tax File Number (TFN) before you can apply for Commonwealth Assistance. It takes about 28 days for a TFN to be issued.

    If you don't have a TFN

    How you apply for a TFN depends on your circumstances, see more information on the Australian Tax office website.

    Apply for a TFN

  • Your Unique Student Identifier (USI)

    You must supply your Unique Student Identifier (USI) to the University. You can supply your USI as part of the eCAF or via the USI Stand Alone Form.

    Changes to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) means it is now compulsory for students commencing study from 1 January 2021 to apply for and obtain a Unique Student Identifier (USI) to be eligible for a Commonwealth supported place and Commonwealth financial assistance.

    What is a USI?

    A USI is a reference number made up of a combination of ten numbers and letters. The USI is used to connect your Commonwealth supported loan information to your details. Providing your USI to your university is a Federal Government requirement.

    How do I get a USI?

    If you have undertaken any training since 2015, you may already have a USI. If you need to apply for one, it will only take a few minutes.

    Find your USI

    Apply for a USI

Important information you should know

We answer common questions you may have about  eCAF.

  • What if my details aren't correct in my electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF)?

    To successfully submit your electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form, you need to ensure your details are correct. The information provided to Charles Sturt University must match the details you have provided to the Australian Taxation Office and USI.

    If you need to change your name, date of birth or gender, you’ll need to email us with supporting legal documentation.

    You can update your email and address at any time through Charles Sturt's Online Administration System.

    If your course details are incorrect as you’re enrolled in concurrent study, check your student portal log in details. You may need to switch which course you’re viewing in the Student Portal. You can do this via the Switch Course function at the top right corner of the Student Portal home screen. Once you’re in the correct view, submit a Commonwealth assistance request form.

  • I haven't got a tax file number and I need to submit the Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF)?

    If you want to defer your fees, you'll need to apply for a tax file number (TFN) as soon as possible. It takes approximately 28 days for your request to be processed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

    You can submit your electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) once you’ve submitted your application. Keep your Certificate of Application for a Tax File Number (TFN) which will be issued after your appointment with Australia Post as proof that you have applied for a TFN. You’ll need to upload this document to complete your eCAF.

    If you don’t provide a copy of your Certificate of Application or a valid tax file number, you won’t be able to defer your subject fees. You’ll need to make full upfront payment before each census date.

    You must provide your tax file number to us within 21 days of receiving it.

  • How do I get a Unique Student Identifier (USI)?

    Applying for a Unique Student Identifier (USI) is fast and free. Your USI stays with you for life and it only takes a few minutes - go to usi.gov.au.

    You'll need to provide at least one of the following identification documents:

    • Australian passport
    • Non-Australian passport (with Australian visa)
    • Australian birth certificate
    • Australian driver's licence
    • Medicare card
    • Certificate of Registration by Descent
    • Centrelink concession cards
    • Citizenship certificate
    • ImmiCard

    Someone can create a USI on your behalf, as long as they have your permission and meet one of the roles or relationships outlined by the Office of the Student Identifiers Registrar.

    If you've studied a VET course in the last five years, including while at secondary school, you might already have a USI. Go to Find your USI to check.

    You don't need a USI if you're an international offshore student.

  • Am I eligible to defer my fees?

    HELP loans are available to eligible students to assist you in paying

    • your student contribution fee if you’re a Commonwealth Supported Place. A HECS-HELP loan can cover all or part of your student contribution amount.
    • Your full fee-paying tuition.  If eligible, you can defer your fees to FEE-HELP.
    • Your student services and amenities fee (SSAF). If eligible, you can defer your fees to SA-HELP.

    To be eligible to defer your fees you must:

    • be an Australian Citizen or hold a New Zealand Special Category Visa (SCV) or be a holder of a permanent humanitarian visa
    • meet the residency requirements – Australian citizens must complete at least one 8 point subject, in its entirety, in Australia. Permanent humanitarian visa holders and New Zealand citizens must live and study in Australia for their entire course.  You will need to have an Australian address on file with us.
    • be assessed for long-term residency requirements if you're a New Zealand citizen
    • submit the Request for Commonwealth support and electronic Commonwealth Assistance form to us by the census date
    • be enrolled in each unit/subject by the census date
    • have available HELP balance. Check your HELP balance.

    Submit your electronic Commonwealth assistance request form

    If you’re a New Zealand citizen (who does not hold a SCV and/or does not meet the long-term residency criteria) or the holder of a permanent (non-humanitarian) visa, then you’re eligible for a Commonwealth Supported Offer and are required to complete an electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form. However, you cannot defer your fees via HECS-HELP. Your student contribution must be paid upfront to Charles Sturt University.

  • I am a New Zealand citizen. Am I eligible for a HECS or FEE-HELP loan to pay for my subject fees?

    New Zealand Special Category Visa (SCV) holders who live and study in Australia, may be eligible for HELP loans.

    To be eligible you must meet the following criteria:

    • have first entered Australia as a dependent minor aged under 18 years
    • have been physically present in Australia for at least eight out of the past 10 years and 18 months out of the past two years
    • meet the other eligibility criteria for a HELP loan.

    You can obtain copies of your international movement records, confirming your residency, from the Department of Home Affairs by lodging a Request for International Movement Records with them. This can take up to 28 working days for the documents to be emailed to you.

    You're required by Australian Government legislation to present evidence to the university that you have been living in Australia for the qualifying period on or before census date.

    Once you have this record, you'll need to email us the full document for assessment.

  • What is my passkey to log in to the electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF)?

    Your passkey is a unique identifier emailed to you from the Australian government.

    You’ll receive a separate passkey for each loan type you request. For example, if you request both FEE-HELP and SA-HELP, you’ll receive a separate passkey for each, unique to that request.

    If you’re enrolled in concurrent study (two courses at the same time), you’ll need to submit a request for each degree. You’ll receive separate passkey’s for your electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form.

    If you’re unable to locate your email, you can:

    • check your SPAM/ Junk email folder
    • contact us
    • submit a new request via your student portal
  • How do I unlock my electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) login

    After your third incorrect attempt at logging into the electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form, you’ll be locked out. You can unlock your eCAF by submitting a new Commonwealth Assistance request form via your student portal or contact us. You'll receive a new passkey once your new request has been submitted.

  • Why have I received an email about a HECS-HELP loan but I haven’t requested this

    If you’ve recently accepted admission into a Commonwealth supported place in your degree, you're required to complete an electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form(eCAF). This is your acceptance of the commonwealth government subsidy for your subject fees.

    When you complete the eCAF, you can nominate if you’ll pay your student contribution fees upfront or if you’ll defer partial or full payment to your HECS-HELP loan.

Want more information?

Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Find answers to common topics

Your myGov account will show you how much you owe and any repayments you have made.

The myHELPbalance portal will show your available HELP balance (the amount you have available to borrow using HELP loans).

Find out more about Commonwealth Supported Places and HELP loans.

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