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Fees Free FAQs

What is Fees Free?

Fees Free tertiary education is a Government initiative targeted at first-time learners. You may be able to get one year’s study or two years’ training fees free. Check if you are eligible by entering your National Student Number (NSN) in the tool at www.feesfree.govt.nz.

If the Fees Free website tells you that your status is ‘unknown’, we will try and help find out how many credits you have on your NZQA Record of Learning. You can fill in the form at the bottom of this page.

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What are the criteria for free industry-based training?

The criteria for study can be different each year, so you should check the Fees Free website for the latest information. As at October 2020, you need to meet requirements to be eligible for fees free industry training in 2021. You must:

  • be enrolling in a New Zealand Apprenticeship or other programme of at least 120 credits (equivalent to 1 EFTS) that commences in 2021, is funded by the Tertiary Education Commission, is recognised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, and is at New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) level 3 or above; and
  • be entitled to work in New Zealand; and
  • have been enrolled in a school in or after 2017 (unless you are an 'adult learner' – please see the Fees Free website for more information).

Any credits achieved as part of any industry training programme that consists of fewer than 120 credits (that were reported after 1 January 2018) won’t be included in measures of prior tertiary education to determine eligibility for Fees Free.

Our industry training programmes and qualifications are all under 120 credits.


What does this mean for me?

When I was at school I was also working part-time or during the holidays. Am I eligible?

Yes. If you were at school in 2017 or after (or will be at school in 2021), then you are eligible for Fees Free study no matter how many credits you have earned outside school. Check your eligibility at the Fees Free website if you are unsure.

Apprenticeships and diplomas

If you’re planning on becoming a cookery, catering, food & beverage or aviation engineering apprentice, and were at school in 2017 or after (or will be at school in 2021), then you’re eligible for fees free study.

If you were at school in 2016 or before, then you need to check the Fees Free website to see if you are eligible. If the website says that your eligibility is ‘unknown’, we can try and help you determine your eligibility for fees free (please fill in the form at the end of this page).

Please note: our apprenticeships have monthly fees, but these are currently fully paid for you, until the end of 2022, by the government’s Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF). We’ll need to establish your eligibility for this separately.

For aviation engineering pre-employment study at a polytechnic, and for air traffic services training through Airways New Zealand, you’ll need to enquire directly with those organisations.

On-job training – employees working and not planning tertiary study

If you’re working in one of our service sectors, either full- or part-time, and not planning on full-time tertiary study or signing to an apprenticeship, then nothing changes.

Ask your employer about the range of training programmes you could do that lead to you gaining a New Zealand Certificate. For many employers, these programmes are already, or can be, free.

On-job training – employees working and planning tertiary study

If you’re working in one of our service sectors now, either full- or part-time, but also planning to do full-time study or take up an industry apprenticeship, you should visit www.feesfree.govt.nz to see whether you’re eligible.

If you are eligible and have concerns that any on-job training you are now doing might affect your eligibility, we will try and help (fill in the form at the bottom of this page).

If the Fees Free website says that your status is unknown or ineligible, then you will need to contact the tertiary institution that you are planning to study at for further assistance.


Fees Free query form

Please complete this form if you have any further questions about the Fees Free scheme and industry training, including apprenticeships, training programmes, qualifications, unit standards or credits.

We will get back to you as soon as we can. If you are contacting us close to, or over, the Christmas break please note that we will be closed from 23 December until 11 January. If your query is urgent, you may be able to get assistance from the Fees Free or TEC websites.

Please note:

As this is a Government programme that is administered by the Tertiary Education Commission, we may not be able to help you with every query. Any answer we give will be based on what we understand to be the case. Therefore, we can not accept responsibility for any actions or decisions you might subsequently make. For further advice, please contact TEC: http://www.tec.govt.nz/