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Factsheet MRC47 - Education Schemes

Purpose

This Factsheet provides information about the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme (VCES) and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme (MRCAETS) (the Education Schemes).

The Education Schemes provide special assistance, student support services, guidance and counselling for eligible children to help them achieve their full potential in full-time education or career training.

What are the Education Schemes?

The VCES is established under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA). The MRCAETS is established under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA). While the benefits provided under each scheme are mostly the same, eligibility rules differ slightly under the different pieces of legislation and are set out below.

Who is eligible?

The VEA defines an eligible child of a veteran as the veteran’s natural or adopted child, or any other child who is, or was immediately before the death of the veteran, wholly or substantially dependent on the veteran.

The MRCA defines an eligible young person as a dependant who was wholly, mainly or partly dependent on the member and includes any person for whom the member stands in the position of a parent.

VCES

For the purposes of eligibility under the VCES, an eligible child is someone who is:

  • under 16 years; or
  • between 16 and 25 and undertaking full-time education (including an Australian Apprenticeship, Traineeship or cadetship); and
  • the child of a current or former member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) who is receiving (or was receiving prior to their death) a disability pension:
    • at the special rate (commonly known as T&PI);
    • at the extreme disablement adjustment (EDA) rate;
    • at an increased rate because of multiple amputations, or multiple amputations and blindness; or
  • the child of a current or former ADF member whose death was war or defence caused; or
  • the child of a veteran who was an Australian prisoner-of-war and is now deceased.

Also eligible are students whose veteran parent had operational service but whose death was not war or defence caused, where the student has also lost their other parent. This loss may be through death or where the surviving parent is not maintaining them.

A student who is the child or dependant of a Vietnam veteran but who does not qualify under any of the above criteria may be eligible in certain circumstances.

Guidance and counselling (only) under the Education Schemes are also available to:

  • children of ADF members who were severely injured or killed in the Blackhawk Helicopter Accident on 12 June 1996; or
  • children of veterans who were severely injured or killed after 7 April 1994 and covered under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA).

MRCAETS

A person is eligible for MRCAETS benefits if he or she is an ‘eligible young person’. Under the MRCAETS, an ‘eligible young person’ is someone who is:

  • under 16 years old; or
  • between 16 and 25, undertaking full-time education (including an Australian Apprenticeship, Traineeship or cadetship) and not ordinarily engaged in full-time work on his or her own account; and
  • a dependant of a member or former member who:
  • is eligible, or was at some point, for the Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP);
  • suffers an impairment that constitutes 80 or more impairment points; or
  • whose death was related to service.

What education assistance is available?

A student may be eligible for the following benefits provided under the Education Schemes:

  • education allowance;
  • special assistance;
  • fares allowance;
  • rent assistance;
  • additional tuition;
  • guidance and counselling;
  • tertiary Student Start-up and Relocation Scholarships;
  • Energy Supplement;
  • Income Support Bonus.

Who are payments of education allowances made to?

For secondary school students living at home who are:

  • under 16 years of age, payment is usually made to the person entitled to be paid Family Tax Benefit (FTB) on the student’s behalf (normally a parent or guardian);
  • 16 years of age or older, the payment is usually made to the person entitled to be paid FTB on the student’s behalf (normally a parent or guardian) although they can elect to have the payment made directly to the student.

Payments are made directly to tertiary students.

Is education allowance means tested?

No. The education allowance is not subject to a student or parental income or assets test.

Is education allowance taxed?

Education allowances are tax exempt up until the age of 16. Education allowances paid to students aged 16 years and over are considered the taxable income of the student. The Education Secretary in your State or Territory can help you with any questions you may have about taxation of education allowances for students aged 16 years and over. You can contact the Education Secretary for your State or Territory by calling the DVA General Enquiries phone number at the bottom of this factsheet.

Alternatively, you may prefer to contact the Australian Taxation Office by phone on 13 28 61 or visit their website www.ato.gov.au

Does education allowance affect eligibility for Family Tax Benefit?

Yes. Once a child turns 16, their family cannot receive both Family Tax Benefit (FTB) paid by the Department of Human Services, and an education allowance from DVA under the Education Schemes, or a similar education payment from the Australian Government. Families will therefore need to decide whether to claim FTB for their child or receive an education payment under the Education Schemes.

For more information on FTB, please contact the Department of Human Services on 136 150 or visit their website www.humanservices.gov.au. This website provides a Family Assistance Estimator to see what family assistance your family may be entitled to. When using the estimator, select the FTB/Youth Allowance comparison option on the website (Youth Allowance rates are comparable to DVA’s education allowance rates).

Generally, once your child intends on commencing tertiary study, you should contact DVA about returning to the DVA Education Schemes.

What is special assistance?

Special assistance is meant for times where there are exceptional circumstances hindering a child's academic progress. It is generally paid to a service provider or a supplier of equipment required to assist the child. Please contact DVA to discuss your eligibility.

What is fares allowance?

Fares allowance is paid to eligible tertiary students to reimburse costs for travel within Australia associated with their study, if they need to live away from home and their permanent home is in Australia. The allowance reimburses the cost of travel from the student’s permanent home to the educational institution at the beginning of the academic year, return travel at the completion of study for the year, and one return trip during the academic year.

What is rent assistance?

Rent assistance is a payment to help meet the cost of rent. It can be paid to a student receiving the homeless student education allowance or a student aged 16 or over who is receiving education allowance at a living away from home rate.

Rent assistance paid under the Education Schemes is not means tested but otherwise follows the rules applying to rent assistance paid under the Social Security Act 1991. This means the amount, if any, of rent assistance payable is determined according to how much rent is paid (up to a maximum limit).

If a student is paying for board and lodging, only the amount paid for lodging or accommodation is counted as rent for rent assistance purposes (as distinct from the amount paid for meals). The maximum rate of rent assistance for single people who are sharing a house, unit or flat is two-thirds of the maximum rate for singles living independently.

What is additional tuition?

Where it is established that a discrepancy exists between the student’s intellectual potential and the student’s actual academic achievement, the decision maker may arrange for the provision of additional tuition for the student. Assistance may only be provided where the need for additional tuition is certified by a qualified and responsible person at the institution where the student is studying. Reviews are conducted to determine the continuing need for tuition.

What guidance and counselling is available?

Guidance and counselling may be arranged for students in relation to matters affecting the student’s continuing progress in a course of study. Guidance and counselling can be arranged at the request of the student or at the discretion of the decision maker. In the case of a student under 18, the request can also be made by:

  • the student’s parent, guardian or trustee; or
  • the principal of the school, college or institution at which the student is enrolled.

What are the Student Start-up and Relocation Scholarships?

To be eligible to receive these scholarships, students must be studying an approved scholarship course, meaning a higher education course or a preparatory course at a higher education institution accredited by the relevant authority in each State or Territory, and receiving an education allowance under the Education Schemes.

The Student Start-up Scholarship is intended to assist students to cover up-front higher education costs including textbook and equipment fees. Students can receive a maximum of two scholarship payments per calendar year.

The Relocation Scholarship is intended to assist students with the costs of establishing accommodation in their new place of study. Eligible students must be receiving a DVA education allowance at the living away from home, homeless or VEA double orphan rate. The Relocation Scholarship is paid once yearly for each year of the course.

Students do not need to apply for the scholarships. Eligibility will be determined automatically by DVA and both scholarships are non-taxable. Students may be eligible to receive one or both of these scholarships. For more information, see DVA Factsheet MRC45.

What is the Energy Supplement?

The Energy Supplement is an ongoing fortnightly (or quarterly, if elected) payment, paid automatically to eligible recipients. For more information, see DVA Factsheet CEP01.

What are the Veterans’ Children Education Boards (VCEB) and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education & Training Boards (MRCETB)?

In each State there is a VCEB and a MRCAETB responsible for assisting with the administration of the Education Schemes. Board members serve in an honorary capacity and include respected members of the community experienced in matters relating to the welfare and education of children. The Board oversees each student's progress and provides educational guidance and counselling where necessary.

What is the Income Support Bonus?

The Income Support Bonus is paid to Education Schemes’ recipients who are 16 years old or over, or under 16 and receiving the education allowance rate of double orphan, homeless or living away from home. The Income Support Bonus is paid twice yearly in late March and September to assist with unexpected expenses for students. These payments are tax free and do not count for income test purposes. For more information, see DVA Factsheet MRC49.

How can I make a claim?

Claims for assistance under the Education Schemes can be made on the relevant claim form:

All completed forms should be posted to DVA in your capital city. The addresses are provided on the form.

A birth certificate or adoption papers must be provided with all claims for dependants less than 5 years of age. Dependants aged 5 – 17 years of age also require relevant education documents, such as proof of enrolment papers from a primary or secondary school or tertiary institution.

New claimants 18 years of age or older, or current dependants who turn 18 years of age and are receiving a payment under the VCES or MRCAETS schemes, are required to provide full proof of identity documents, in addition to relevant education documents, to prove their enrolment in a school or tertiary institution.

How much will I be paid?

For the current payment rates, please refer to these Factsheets:

More Information

DVA General Enquiries

Phone: 1800 555 254 *

Email: GeneralEnquiries@dva.gov.au

DVA Website: www.dva.gov.au

Factsheet Website: www.dva.gov.au/factsheets

* Calls from mobile phones and pay phones may incur additional charges.

Related Factsheets

Related Forms

Disclaimer

The information contained in this Factsheet is general in nature and does not take into account individual circumstances. You should not make important decisions, such as those that affect your financial or lifestyle position on the basis of information contained in this Factsheet. Where you are required to lodge a written claim for a benefit, you must take full responsibility for your decisions prior to the written claim being determined. You should seek confirmation in writing of any oral advice you receive from DVA.

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26 September 2018