Eligibility criteria and what Fees Free covers

Eligibility criteria and what Fees Free covers

Last updated 16 December 2021
Last updated 16 December 2021

This page sets out the eligibility criteria for Fees Free from 2022. It also includes the amount, fees and costs covered by Fees Free.

To receive Fees Free, a learner must meet the Fees Free eligibility criteria and enrol in an eligible course or industry training programme.

To confirm their eligibility status, learners need to go to feesfree.govt.nz and enter their National Student Number (NSN).

Provider-based study usually refers to courses enrolled in at Te Pūkenga, a University, Wānanga, or Private Training Establishment, studying on campus, or online.

Industry-based training usually refers to programmes enrolled in at Te Pūkenga, a private training establishment or through a transitional industry training organisation, where you are training in a workplace, or doing ‘on the job’ learning.

Provider-based study

Learner criteria

To be eligible for Fees Free while enrolled in provider-based study, a learner needs to meet both the residency and prior study and training criteria below.

Residency criteria

Learners must be one of the following:

  • a New Zealand citizen; or
  • a holder of the Christchurch Response (2019) Permanent Resident Visa; or
  • a holder of a residence class visa who would have been eligible for the Christchurch Response (2019) Permanent Resident Visa; or
  • a holder of the Afghan Emergency Resettlement Resident Visa; or
  • a holder of a residence class visa; and
    • have been living in New Zealand for at least three years while holding a residence class visa and ordinarily resident in New Zealand; or
    • a person granted refugee or protected person status, or a family member granted a residence visa with the person granted refugee or protected person status; or
    • sponsored into New Zealand by someone in their family who, at the time of sponsorship, was a refugee or protected person; or
  • a person granted refugee or protected person status, prior to gaining a residence visa; or
  • an immediate family member, without a residence visa and residing in New Zealand, of a person granted refugee or protected person status, as defined as:
    • the partner and any child in New Zealand, of a person granted refugee or protected person status, prior to gaining a residence visa; or
    • the parent and any sibling in New Zealand, of a person granted refugee or protected person status, prior to gaining a residence visa, who is a dependent child.

Prior study and training criteria

Learners must have:

  • been enrolled in a school in or after 2020 other than as an adult student, or
  • not undertaken more than half a year of equivalent full-time tertiary education (0.5 EFTS or 60 credits) at level 3 or above on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF), including tertiary education at an equivalent level undertaken in any country.

The following does not count as prior study:

  • tertiary education undertaken while enrolled in school prior to 1 January 2019 (except for tertiary education undertaken as an adult student);
  • tertiary courses undertaken as part of the learner’s school learning programme or secondary-tertiary programme on or after 1 January 2019;
  • credits achieved as part of any industry training programme that consists of fewer than 120 credits that are reported after 1 January 2018;
  • tertiary education undertaken as part of the Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF);
  • tertiary education undertaken through the Youth Guarantee programme after 1 July 2020;
  • tertiary education undertaken through the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training programme after 1 July 2020; and
  • tertiary education undertaken through the Refugee English Fund.

Course criteria

To be eligible for Fees Free, a course must be:

  • funded by the Tertiary Education Commission from either:
    • the Student Achievement Component Level 3 and above Fund, or
    • grants under section 556 of the Education and Training Act 2020 for tertiary provision towards a qualification on the NZQF at level 3 or above, or a training scheme or micro-credential at level 3 or above approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), and
  • not part of a school learning programme or secondary-tertiary programme.

Visit the Fees Free website to understand how school learning programmes and secondary-tertiary programmes fit within Fees Free settings. 

Industry-based training

Learner criteria

To be eligible for Fees Free while enrolled in industry-based training, a learner must meet the residency and prior study and training criteria below.

Residency criteria

A learner must be legally entitled to reside and work in New Zealand.

Prior study and training criteria

The learner must have either:

  • been enrolled in a school in or after 2020, other than as an adult student, or
  • not undertaken more than half a year of equivalent full-time tertiary education (0.5 EFTS or 60 credits) at level 3 or above on the NZQF, including tertiary education at an equivalent level undertaken in any country.

The following do not count as prior study or training:

  • tertiary education undertaken while enrolled in school prior to 1 January 2019 (except for tertiary education undertaken as an adult student);
  • tertiary courses undertaken as part of the learner’s school learning programme or secondary-tertiary programme on or after 1 January 2019;
  • credits achieved as part of any industry training programme that consists of fewer than 120 credits that are reported after 1 January 2018;
  • tertiary education undertaken as part of the Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF);
  • tertiary education undertaken through the Youth Guarantee programme after 1 July 2020;
  • tertiary education undertaken through the Maori and Pasifika Trades Training programme after 1 July 2020; and
  • tertiary education undertaken through the Refugee English Fund.

Programme criteria

To be eligible for Fees Free, an industry training programme must:

  • be funded through the Industry Training Fund; and
  • be at NZQF level 3 or above, and
  • be approved by the NZQA, and
  • comprise of at least 120 credits (which includes all New Zealand Apprenticeships), and
  • not be part of a school learning programme or secondary-tertiary programme.

Visit the Fees Free website to understand how school learning programmes and secondary-tertiary programmes fit within Fees Free settings. 

What Fees Free covers

Provider-based study

In a learner’s first calendar year of Fees Free study they can get up to $12,000 (including GST) for any Fees Free eligible study. There is no equivalent full-time student (EFTS) or credit cap.

Learners who undertake less than 1 EFTS (120 credits) and use less than $12,000 of Fees Free in their first calendar year of study can carryover their remaining Fees Free entitlement (in dollars and EFTS). You can find out more about this in Carrying over Fees Free entitlement.

Fees Free covers:

  • compulsory tuition fees
  • compulsory course costs that are charged to all students enrolled in a course, which include (but are not limited to) the following:
    • any compulsory costs associated with enrolment;
    • examinations (including reporting of credits to the NZQA);
    • field trips; and
    • any compulsory purchase of equipment or books through the TEO; and
  • compulsory student services fees.

Fees Free does not cover:

  • Any administrative fees or charges (other than tuition fees or compulsory course costs) for additional services that are payable as a result of the specific circumstances of the learner. This includes (but is not limited to) the following:
    • reassessment or remarking of examination results;
    • examination relocation fees;
    • fees associated with recognition of prior learning; or
    • fees associated with an application for selected entry programmes.

Learners will need to pay other optional and occasional fees such as student association and club memberships, some course materials, and late fees.

This aligns Fees Free coverage with current fee regulation and courses currently covered by the Student Loan Scheme.

Industry training

Eligible learners are eligible for their fees to be paid for the first 24 months of the training programme. Fees Free is capped at $12,000 (including GST) per learner.

The Fees Free policy covers fees for industry training, including fees:

  • for training and assessment;
  • paid to organisations eligible for funding under the Industry Training Fund;
  • paid directly to training and assessment providers; and
  • directly related to individual trainees that are Fees Free eligible.