6.3.8.40 Student Start-up Loan (SSL) Overpayments

Summary

This topic contains information about SSL overpayments.

Reason for overpayment

An SSL overpayment can occur when a person is paid the amount of an SSL to which they were not qualified. The amount paid will be a recoverable amount and an overpayment may be raised. Note that SSLs are social security payments and as such, overpayments raised as debts are subject to the usual debt recovery provisions within the social security law.

When a social security debt is raised

A person will incur a social security debt if:

  • they are not enrolled in an approved scholarship course on a full-time basis 35 days after their qualification test day or course start date for a qualification period, whichever is later, or
  • their qualification test day is within 35 days of the course end date and they are not enrolled in the approved scholarship course on a full-time basis on the course end date.

A person's qualification test day for a qualification period is the earliest of the following:

  • the day the Secretary determines their claim,
  • the last day of the approved scholarship course - if the course ends in the qualification period, or
  • the last day of the qualification period (30 June or 31 December).

The purpose of these rules is to ensure that the loans are targeted to people who have a genuine commitment to continuing their study.

Students whose SSL claim is determined after their course end date, will not be subject to the rules detailed above.

Where a debt has been treated as an income contingent loan to be repaid through the taxation system, however it is later discovered that the person was not qualified for the SSL at the time they received it, the SSL payment will be treated as an overpayment and repaid through the social security system.

Example 1: Lizzie enrols in a Bachelor of Arts as a first year student in 2017. Lizzie is granted an SSL on 21 February 2017. Lizzie's course start day is 1 March 2017. Lizzie decides she no longer wishes to continue with her Bachelor of Arts course and ceases to be enrolled in that course on 30 March 2017. Lizzie does not enrol in another approved scholarship course. Lizzie owes a debt to the Commonwealth for the amount of the SSL because she is not enrolled in an approved scholarship course at the end of 35 days after her course start day.

Example 2: Esther is in her second year of a Bachelor of Science. Her course start day for the second semester of the second year of her course is 28 July 2016. Esther is granted an SSL on 10 August 2016. Esther decides she no longer wishes to continue with a Bachelor of Science and ceases to be enrolled on 22 August 2016. Esther does not enrol in another approved scholarship course. Esther owes a debt to the Commonwealth for the amount of the SSL because she is not enrolled in an approved scholarship course at the end of 35 days after her qualification test day. Esther's qualification test day is the day her SSL was granted (10 August 2016).

Example 3: Patrick applies for an SSL in his last semester of study. His claim is determined on 9 November 2016, 10 days before his course is due to end on 19 November 2016. On 13 November 2016, Patrick ceases to be enrolled in his course. As Patrick did not remain enrolled in his course until the course end day, he owes a debt to the Commonwealth for the amount of the SSL.

Example 4: Naomi applies for an SSL 40 days before her course is due to finish on 1 December. Due to delays in processing her claim, Naomi's qualification for the loan is not determined until 15 December - after Naomi has finished her course. In these circumstances, Naomi is still entitled to the SSL and her loan will need to be repaid through the taxation system. She will not incur a social security debt.

Act reference: SSAct section 1223ABF Debts in respect of SSLs, section 1223 Debts arising from lack of qualification, overpayment etc., section 1061ZVBB Qualification for SSL

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.2.7.165 Student Start-up Loan (SSL) - Description, 3.8.19 SSL - Qualification and Payability

Last reviewed: 15 August 2016