If you want to add to your existing skill set by enrolling in an apprenticeship program but don't have the means, maybe you should think about getting an apprentice loan.
If you've started out on an apprenticeship or plan to do so in the near future, you may need to take out a loan to help you manage your finances. In Australia you’ve got multiple loan options to choose from. On one hand you've got the Australian Government encouraging apprenticeships by offering apprentices trade support loans, and on the other hand you get to choose from apprentice and personal loans offered by major banks.
Just how you can use the proceeds of these loans can vary from one offering to the next; while some allow you to spend the money on just about anything, others come with stricter spending guidelines. If you don't qualify, skip forward to the loans you may qualify for.
How does an apprentice loan work?
If you get a trade support loan from the Australian Government you don't have to make repayments until your income reaches a minimum income threshold, which could be any time in the future or possibly never. With apprentice and student loans offered by banks, however, this is not necessarily the case and you might have to start making repayments with immediate effect.
While government-sponsored loans don't attract any interest, if you get a loan from a bank you can expect to pay a fixed or variable interest rate. Features such loans come with tend to vary and you can expect to find loans that offer repayment flexibility, redraw facilities and different loan terms.
Loans for apprentices - how do I compare them?
- Interest. Trade Support Loans offered by the Australian Government don't attract any interest and, in addition, if you complete your apprenticeship you receive a 20% discount. This essentially means you only repay 80% of what you borrow. Loans for apprentices offered by banks can attract fixed or variable interest rates and choosing between the two depends on personal preferences.
- Loan amount and term. You can get up to $20,000 through a Trade Support Loan and the Tools For Your Trade loan offers up to $5,500. The latter comes in the form of a grant that you don't have to repay. Funds for the Trade Support Loan disburse in stages, over a course of four years, and you have to start repaying it only after your income reaches a minimum income threshold. Just how much you can borrow from a bank is up to any given bank's discretion, while the loan term in such cases is normally in between one to seven years.
- Fees. While most loans for apprentices do away with the majority of fees, this is not always the case and some loans end up charging establishment fees, disbursement fees, settlement fees and early exit fees.
- Features. If you're taking an apprentice loan from a bank, find out if it allows you to make extra repayments without charging penalties. This feature allows you to pay your loan off sooner. If your lender allows you to make extra repayments, find out if you can redraw this money if you need it in the future. You can also look for a loan that is part of a package which includes a cheque account and a debit card.
Positive and negatives
- Means to better skills. If a lack of money is keeping you from getting an apprenticeship and furthering your career, you can easily turn to an apprenticeship loan or a student loan to take care of your finances and set yourself on a path to a better future.
- Use funds for different purposes. In most instances, you can use the funds you receive through such loans for different purposes like buying tools of the trade, buying used vehicles and even taking care of everyday living expenses.
- Repayment flexibility. In many instances, you don't have to start making repayments until you start earning or until your income reaches a minimum income threshold. When it comes to making repayments, you can choose from making weekly, fortnightly or monthly repayments. In addition, extra repayments are also allowed.
- Interest capitalisation. With some student loans, while you might not have to start making repayments until you receive your first paycheque, they start attracting interest from day one and this can soon add up to a tidy sum.
What to look out for
- Acting in haste. Before applying for an apprentice loan make sure you're not doing it on the back of a hasty decision. This is because if you drop out of your apprenticeship any time after your start, you still have to repay the loan.
- Choosing ineligible alternatives. Before you choose any particular apprenticeship, find out if you can get a loan for it in the first place. For example, while some might require you to enrol in an approved Australian Apprenticeship traineeship course, others support most Certificate III and IV qualifications as well as certain Certificate II horticulture and agriculture qualifications.
Ready to apply?
Before you apply for an apprenticeship loan, take some time to compare the offerings on this page. Once you find a suitable option, simply click on the corresponding 'Go to Site' button to start the application process. Remember that different student and apprentice loans come with different eligibility criteria, which can include the following:
- You should be between 18 and 25 years of age
- You should be part of an approved Australian Apprenticeship course that is at least 12 months in duration
To complete an application for a typical apprentice loan, you may have to submit the following:
- Your contact details
- Copy of enrolment letter or statement
- Copy of registration from training provider
Personal loan comparisons for apprentices
If you don't qualify for the Australian Government Apprentice Loan Scheme, below are a comparison of low interest personal loans. These can be used for tools and equipment for your apprenticeship.
Remember to compare all the available options before you apply for a personal loan as an apprentice. Use the comparison table above to research your options and do your due diligence before clicking through to a lender