The only way is up for new student loan admin fees

Universities are upset at the new charges the government intends to recoup costs in administering student loans.  “A demonstrably pernicious policy” is what the Group of Eight calls it. People considering the cost recovery implementation statement add another p-word, petty.

In a consultation paper now out the Department of Education and Training presents  costs it will pass onto different providers, including $155.54  to “register and process a new FEE HELP Provider application” and $26 207 flat, per university for “provider management, compliance and financial viability.”

There is more, across a range of activities,  which will provide all sorts of entertainment (charged at lord knows what hourly rate) for university staff trying to follow the feds’ figuring.

What is impressive in the document is the way DET makes a case for cost recovery as equity and efficiency measures.

“Recovering the costs of these regulatory activities promotes equity, as the recipients of the activity meet the cost of its delivery. It is expected that cost recovery will encourage higher education providers to offer more comprehensive information for students to reduce the volume of enquiry services required by the department. Charging, via cost recovery, can also increase the efficiency, productivity and responsiveness by the department, as service levels can be streamlined where possible.”

But what is less amusing and more alarming, especially for non university providers, is the way the department explains charges will change.

“To mitigate these risks, cost drivers for the application activity and ongoing monitoring, compliance and management activities will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. This will ensure that the application fee and annual charge rates reflect the efficient costs, the drivers of those costs and will include consultation with stakeholders. In the event of revenue not being aligned with actual costs, the department will aim to review its processes and prices; and reconcile this difference in the following year’s charges.”

Which may end up meaning that in general the only way is up.  Responses to the proposal are due Friday week.


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