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The NSW Government's Smart and Skilled program can help you get the skills you need to find a job. There are more than 580 qualifications from Certificate I to Certificate IV to choose from, including apprenticeships and traineeships.

If you are 15 or older, have left school and you are or have been in out-of-home care, you may be eligible for a Fee-Free Scholarship that will cover your course fees.

To be eligible for a Fee-Free Scholarship, you must:

  • be wanting to study a Smart and Skilled course (Certificate I to Certificate IV only) for a qualification on the NSW Skills List
  • meet the Smart and Skilled eligibility criteria
  • be aged between 15 and 30 years when you start training and
  • be aged 15-17 years and currently in out-of-home care or aged 18-30 years and previously have been in out-of-home care.

Supporting evidence requested

In order to get a fee exemption you must declare that you are or were previously in OOHC and, if requested, provide the following supporting evidence:

If you are 15 to 17 and in OOHC:

  • a copy of the Children’s Court Care Order, or
  • a copy the ‘confirmation of placement’ letter, or
  • a letter from DCJ or the OOHC Designated Agency verifying that you are in statutory or supported care, or
  • any other evidence that clearly shows you are in OOHC.


If you are 18 to 30 and were previously in OOHC:

  • a copy of the expired Children’s Court Care Order, or
  • a copy of the ‘leaving care’ letter from the Minister for Communities and Justice (DCJ), or
  • a letter from DCJ verifying you were previously in statutory or supported care, or
  • any other evidence which clearly shows you were in OOHC.

How to apply

There is no need to lodge a formal application. If you meet the fee-free scholarship eligibility criteria, when you enrol the chosen Smart and Skilled training provider will let you know that you have been provided with a scholarship. The NSW Government will pay the course fees directly to Smart and Skilled training providers.

Maximum entitlement

Eligible students are entitled to 1 fee-free scholarship per financial year, and a maximum of 2 fee-free scholarships from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2019.

Incidental expenses

Training providers may still charge fees for incidental expenses, such as text books, field trips, tool kits or transport costs. Whilst incidental expenses are not covered by the scholarship, payment or reimbursement of these costs is generally covered by the care allowance.

If you have left care, such assistance should be included in your leaving care plan.

Other financial support for education and training

If you are 16 to 17 and studying or training, including apprenticeships, you carer can request the Teenage Education Payment (TEP). This is an annual amount of $6,000 paid by DCJ to eligible carers.

For more information on eligibility and how to apply read the Teenage Education Payment Guidelines or talk to your caseworker. The Teenage Education Payment - questions and answers factsheet also answers some of the more common questions you may have.

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Last updated: 18 Oct 2019
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