This page 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 financial assistance, special assistance, student support services and arrange for guidance and counselling for eligible children to help them achieve their full potential in full-time education or career training.
On 23 February 2021, the Prime Minister announced a permanent $50 increase to the base rates of working age payments such as JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Education Schemes. This change took effect on1 April 2021.
On 1 April 2021, the base rate of certain Education Allowance rates paid to students under the Education Schemes increased by $50 a fortnight.
Affected Education Allowance rates under the Education Schemes are:
- students aged 16 or over
- students aged under 16 and living away from home
- students aged under 16 and homeless
- students who are Double Orphans.
You do not need to contact DVA in order to receive the increase to the Education Allowance base rate. If you receive Education Allowance at an eligible rate, your payment has been adjusted automatically.
Students and Australian Apprentice who receive support through DVA’s Education Schemes, including education allowance, may be impacted due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It is important for these students to keep their details up to date with DVA. This includes if you (or they):
- change address, phone number, email address, bank account details or relationship status; or
- stop studying or change their enrolment details (including periods of absence); or
- start working or receive any payment or benefit from Services Australia or another Australian government agency.
You can update your circumstances with DVA through MyService or by calling 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).
For further general information on DVA’s response to coronavirus, visit the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) information page.
The Coronavirus Supplement was one of a range of measures announced by the Government to address the economic impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic. It was a temporary payment paid on top of an eligible person’s regular payment. It ceased to be payable from 1 April 2021.
Certain DVA Education Schemes recipients who receive their fortnightly payments at a similar rate to Youth Allowance students were eligible to receive the Coronavirus Supplement.
The Coronavirus Supplement was paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight from 27 April 2020 to 24 September 2020 and $250 per fortnight from 25 September to 31 December 2020.
From 1 January to 31 March 2021, the Coronavirus Supplement was paid at a rate of $150 per fortnight. It ceased to be payable from 1 April 2021.
DVA Education Schemes recipients eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement include those who are:
- aged 16 or over and receiving education allowance at any rate
- receiving education allowance at the Living Away from Home rate
- receiving education allowance at the Homeless rate
- receiving education allowance at the Double Orphan rate.
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.
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 is (or was immediately prior to the death of the member) wholly, mainly or partly dependent on the member and includes any person for whom the member stands in the position of a parent.
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).
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.
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.
Payments to primary school students are made to the person entitled to be paid Family Tax Benefit (FTB) on the student’s behalf (normally a parent or guardian).
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 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.
No. The education allowance is not subject to a student or parental income or assets test.
Education allowances are tax exempt up until the age of 16. Education allowances paid to students aged 16 years and over are generally 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.
Alternatively, you may prefer to contact the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) by phone on 13 28 61 or visit the ATO website.
Yes. Once a child turns 16, their family cannot receive both Family Tax Benefit (FTB) paid by Services Australia, 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 Services Australia on 136 150 or visit the Services Australia website. 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 to commence tertiary study, you should contact DVA about returning to the DVA Education Schemes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Guidance and counselling may be arranged for students in relation to matters affecting the student’s 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.
To be eligible to receive these scholarships, tertiary 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 may be eligible to 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 the student is required to live away form home to undertake 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 Student start-up scholarship and relocation scholarship.
The Energy Supplement is an ongoing fortnightly payment, paid automatically to eligible recipients.
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 representatives of ex-service organisations and state education authorities 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.
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 Income support bonus.
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. Alternatively, forms may be lodged online through MyService or by email: educationschemes [at] dva.gov.au.
A birth certificate or adoption papers must be provided with all claims for dependants under 18 years of age, as well as proof of enrolment in full time education.
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.
For the current payment rates, please refer to these pages: