Refunds or fee remission under special circumstances

You can apply for a refund of upfront tuition fees, a re-credit of a FEE HELP*, or re-credit of a VET Student Loan balance in exceptional circumstances if:

  • You were unable to continue studying and withdrew from the module(s) after the census date has passed, or
  • You were unable to successfully complete the requirements of the module(s) to a minimum of a Pass (P).

This application is only relevant to modules that have not been successfully completed, and have either a Fail, or Withdrawn grade (WK, WF or F). You cannot apply for re-credit or refund under special circumstances if you have successfully completed the module.

Applications will not be approved where no special circumstances exist. A lack of knowledge or understanding of the FEE HELP/VSL administrative requirements, deadlines, or changes in legislation are not considered to be a special circumstance beyond a person’s control.

It is expected if you are applying for special circumstances after withdrawing from a module after census date that you have first explored all avenues prior to the decision to withdraw, such as applying for special consideration (that is, requesting deferred assessment, extensions etc.) or other support and assistance that SAE may be able to provide.

It is important to note that special circumstances may only be awarded where it was not possible to complete the module(s) to a minimum of a pass level. Not completing your module to your usual standards is not itself a reason for remission/refund.

* For the latest updates regarding FEE-HELP please refer to Fees & Payment section of the website.

What are Special Circumstances

Special circumstances are those that are considered to be unusual, uncommon or abnormal.

To meet special circumstances, you need to demonstrate that your circumstances meet all of the eligibility criteria:

  • were beyond your control; and
  • did not make the full impact on you until on or after the census(s) of the module; and
  • made it impracticable for you to complete the module(s) and continue with your studies.


Special circumstances were beyond your control:

A situation occurs which a reasonable person would consider is not due to the person’s action or inaction, either direct or indirect, and for which the person is not responsible. This situation must be unusual, uncommon, or abnormal. Lack of knowledge of the FEE-HELP system is not considered beyond a person’s control.


Special circumstances did not make their full impact on you until on or after the census date:

To meet this criteria the following circumstances must have occurred:

(i)before the census date, but worsened after that day, or

(ii)before the census date, but the full effect or magnitude did not become apparent until after that date, or

(iii)on or after the census date.


Special circumstances made it impracticable for you to complete the requirements of the module and continue with your studies:

To meet this criteria you will need to demonstrate it was impracticable for you to complete the requirements of the module for the study period, because you were unable, for example:

(i)undertake the necessary private study required, or attend sufficient lectures or tutorials, or other compulsory attendance requirements in order to meet the compulsory module requirements, or

(ii)complete the required assessable work, or

(iii)sit the required examinations, or complete any other course requirements.

NOTE: Failure to meet any progressive course requirements of the module(s) prior to the special circumstances developing will not necessarily mean your special circumstances made it impracticable for you to complete the module(s) requirements. That is, if you needed to pass all assessment items prior to your special circumstances (e.g. medical) occurred, you could not have passed the module even if you had not fallen ill, therefore your application is likely to be declined.

Not completing your module to your usual standard is not in itself a reason for fee remission in special circumstances.

You must be able to demonstrate you were unable to complete your studies in that module at a minimum of a pass level.

Examples of special circumstances

Please click here to review examples of special circumstances and what they do not include.

How to Apply

To apply, you will need to complete the relevant forms.

On this form, you will need to provide a personal statement explaining your circumstances and how they meet the requirements of ‘special circumstances’ as detailed above. You will need to meet and address all three special circumstances detailed. This personal statement should include sufficient detail to allow us to make an informed decision about your application and circumstances.

You will also need to include relevant supporting documentation to support your application. Your application will be considered primarily on these supporting documents, so it is important your application includes these documents.

Depending on your reasons for applying you will need to provide varying independent supporting documentation. Please note: statements from family members are not considered independent and will not be accepted. Please read the information on what types of documentation to include depending on your circumstance.

Please submit your completed application directly to [email protected] or hand the completed documents to Student Services at your local campus.

Alternatively, you can post the completed application to:

c/o National Student Finance
SAE Creative Media Institute
373-391 Ewingsdale Road
Byron Bay, NSW, 2481

How your application will be assessed

SAE Institute will assess your application in accordance with the requirements of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 and associated guidelines. Your application will be considered on its merits and the supporting application must be of sufficient detail to the Student Fees Team to make an informed decision regarding your application.

We recognise that your application may include sensitive personal information. The information you provide is used only for the purpose of enabling a small central team of staff to make a decision about your application.

You will be notified of the outcome of your application within 28 days of the completed application being received by the Student Fees Team. The Fees Team may contact you to request additional supporting information if the application does not include sufficient information for the Fees Team to make a decision.

Time-frame for applications

You will need to apply for special circumstances within 12 months of the following dates:

  • The date you withdrew from the course if you withdrew from it, or
  • The end date of the relevant study period, if you didn’t withdraw.

Applications submitted more than 12 months after the relevant date will not be considered.

The Institute may consider waiving the application period, in accordance with HESA, if it is deemed not possible for the application to have been made within the 12 month period. Additional supporting documents will be required. Lack of knowledge of the debt is not considered a reason itself as to why you could not submit an application.

What supporting documentation to include

It is most important to provide independent supporting documentation to support your application. It is not sufficient to provide only a personal statement outlining your special circumstances.

Please note, SAE Institute may contact any professional authority who has supported your application, to verify any information they have provided.

Your application, personal statement, and any supporting documents must be in English. An official translation in English must be included with your application for any supporting documentation issued in another language.

Please find the list of supporting documentation here.

Outcomes of the Application Process

You will be notified of the outcome of your application within 28 calendar days of the date the application was received by the SAE Institute. The Notice of Decision will be sent to your student email and contain the following:

  • the outcome of your application;
  • reasons for the decision;
  • how to apply for a review (if the application is refused).

Approved Applications

If your fee remission is approved, the process applied for the re-crediting or remission of the financial liability will depend on your fee type and the method of payment used;

  • Fee-Help Loan Students: Students who incurred a FEE-HELP debt will have their debt removed (including any amounts incurred due to indexation) and their FEE-HELP balance re-credited. Students may check if the debt has been cancelled by logging into myUniAssist with your Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN). You can find your CHESSN on your Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN). You will be provided with an amended Commonwealth Assistance Notice for the relevant study period.
  • Upfront Fee Paying Students: Students who have paid tuition fees upfront will have this amount credited to their student account. Where a student requires a refund of monies rather than a credit towards future study, the student will need to complete the Refund Application Form.

Rejected Applications and Appeals

If your application is rejected (i.e. we do not refund your FEE-HELP) and you’re not satisfied with the decision, you may apply for a review of the decision within 28 calendar days after you first received the decision on your application.

You will need to send your appeal c/o Director of Finance, to [email protected] and you will need to include the following information:

  • Your grounds for requesting a reconsideration of the decision; and
  • Any additional supporting documentation you may wish to include in support of your appeal

We will advise you in writing of the receipt of the appeal. Your request will be reviewed by an independent Senior Officer of the Institute.

You will usually be notified of a decision within 28 days (in most cases) of the result of your appeal.

If your appeal application outcome is reviewed and you’re still dissatisfied, you can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a further review of the decision (this does not apply to full fee-paying students or international students). This must be lodged with the AAT within 28 days of receiving the notice of the decision.

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