Self-Education Expenses – What Can’t I Claim?


Adult education courses are a great way to build on your knowledge, learn new skills, and progress your career. The good news is, they can also be a tax deduction for students.

There are a few rules to know when claiming self-education expenses. The course that you are enrolled in must be related to your current occupation. If you are studying a course that is intrinsic to your career pathway, read on to learn more about the finer details of what you can and can’t claim.

Is My Adult Education Course Eligible?

When it comes to a self-education tax deduction for students, the Australian Government has set out clear guidelines on the ways in which a course can be eligible. No matter what you’re studying, you will need to gain a formal qualification and meet one of these conditions:

  • You are upgrading your qualifications for your current employment
  • You are improving your skills or knowledge used in your current employment
  • You are a trainee and the course is part of the traineeship
  • You can prove that the course you were enrolled in will result, or will likely result, in an increase in your current salary

You might have recently been promoted at work and moved into a leadership position. To support your work experience with a proper qualification, you could undertake one of our adult education courses to improve your management skills, such as the Diploma of Leadership and Management (BSB50420).

Keep in mind that you aren’t able to claim self-education expenses for adult education courses that don’t have a sufficient connection to your current job. If the course is generally relevant or helps you to get a new job, this might not be enough to claim a tax deduction for students.

What Expenses Can I Claim?

Affordability is a common concern when it comes to enrolling in adult education courses. However, it is important to understand that many of our courses are offered online. This can immediately cut out a lot of the expenses associated with travel. If you meet one of the conditions above, then there is also a range of tax deductions you can claim. These include course or student union fees, some travel expenses, stationery and equipment purchase, repairs and depreciation as well as home office running costs. For a more comprehensive list of claimable expenses, check out our blog on how you can claim your self-education deductions.

It could also be worthwhile speaking to a tax advisor or accountant. They will be able to tell you what evidence you need to provide, and how to properly keep track of your receipts.

What Expenses Can’t I Claim?

While there are many expenses you can claim back at the end of financial year, there are some things you simply can’t claim back. These include:

  • Repayments of Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loans (although the fees paid by some HELP loans are)
  • Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS) repayments
  • Home office occupancy expenses
  • Meals (unless you’re sleeping away from home)

Is There Anything Else I Need to Know About?

Right now, the ATO requires that the first $250 of self-education expenses have to be non-deductible if they are all ‘Category A’ items. These include:

  • Tuition fees
  • Textbooks
  • Stationary
  • Student union fees
  • Student services and amenities fees
  • Public transport fares
  • Car expenses worked out through the ‘logbook method’
  • Running expenses for a room set aside for study

On the other hand, there are expenses in ‘Category E’ you can use to offset against the $250. These include:

  • Childcare
  • Computer purchase
  • Fares, travel or car expense for these journeys:
    – For work-related self-education, the second leg of a trip if you went from home to your place of education and then to work, or the other way around
    – If you receive a taxable bonded scholarship and aren’t employed by the scholarship provider, travel from home to your normal place of education and back

Your Next Move

For more information on claiming self-education expenses, simply head to the ATO website. Here you’ll find out everything you need to know, as well as free calculator tools to determine your eligibility and the items you can claim back.

If you pay for your course before the 30th of June, you can potentially see the money back in your account within a few months. While choosing to study can seem like a daunting and expensive undertaking, knowing how it benefits you and what you can claim back will give you the confidence you need.

Ready to take your next step? Contact one of our career advisors today to run through all of our adult education courses and help you choose the right one for you.

What could you be eligible for this tax time?

Find out what self-education expenses you may be eligible for with our tax calculator.