Commonwealth supported places

What is a Commonwealth supported place?

A Commonwealth supported place is a subsidised enrolment at university*. The Australian Government subsidises a Commonwealth supported place by paying part of the fees for the place directly to the university and the student pays the remainder of the fees through a 'student contribution' amount.

*Commonwealth supported places are available at all public universities and at a handful of private higher education providers (providers) in national priority areas (nursing and education).

Commonwealth supported places are only available to domestic students. Most undergraduate students studying at university are enrolled in Commonwealth supported places. There is no cap to the amount of study you can undertake as a Commonwealth supported student.

Being eligible does not guarantee that you will be offered a Commonwealth supported place in the course of your choice or at your chosen university. Applications are assessed by universities, and offers are based on merit as students must also meet the course entry requirements set by the university. If successful, your university will let you know in writing whether you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place.

Only some universities offer Commonwealth supported places at the postgraduate level. Most postgraduate courses at universities are offered as fee paying, but you will need to check with your university to see if it offers Commonwealth supported place for the postgraduate course you intend to study.

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Am I eligible for a Commonwealth supported place?

To be eligible for a Commonwealth supported place, you must:

  • be an Australian citizen, a New Zealand citizen or the holder of a permanent visa;
  • meet the citizenship and residency requirements;
  • enrol with a provider in each unit, by the census date;
  • read the HECS‑HELP, Commonwealth supported places information booklet;
  • submit a valid Request for Commonwealth support and HECS‑HELP form to your provider by the census date (or earlier administrative date); and
  • finalise your payment arrangements for your student contributions by the census date.
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Residency requirements

Australian citizens are eligible for a Commonwealth supported place if their university reasonably expects the person will undertake some of their course of study in Australia. If you intend on studying overseas via distance education for your entire course then you would not meet these residency requirements.

You will not meet the residency requirements if your university reasonably expects that you will not be in Australia undertaking any units contributing to the course of study in which you are enrolled.

New Zealand citizens and permanent visa holders must be resident in Australia for the duration of their unit(s). Any period of residence outside Australia will be disregarded if:

  • it cannot reasonably be regarded as indicating an intention to reside outside Australia for the duration of the unit; or
  • it is required for the purpose of completing a requirement of that unit.

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Payment Options

Australian citizens and permanent humanitarian visa holders who are enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place can use the HECS‑HELP scheme to help them pay their student contributions.

New Zealand citizens and permanent visa holders enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place must pay their student contribution upfront to their provider by the census date. If their student contribution amount is left unpaid after the census date then a provider must cancel a student’s Commonwealth supported place.

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Do I have to accept a Commonwealth supported place?

Some students choose not to accept a Commonwealth supported place for a number of different reasons. However, these places are much cheaper than fee paying places.

If you don't want to accept a Commonwealth supported place, or if you want to be Commonwealth supported for only some of your units, you need to inform your provider of this in writing by the census date or administrative date for the relevant study period. Keep in mind that your provider does not have to offer you a fee paying place instead.

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What if I'm not Commonwealth supported?

If you are not enrolled as a Commonwealth supported student, you will be enrolled as a fee paying student. This means the Government does not subsidise your education and you will need to pay the tuition fees set by your provider. Some fee paying students are eligible for a FEE‑HELP loan to pay their tuition fees.

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Need more information?

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions or the Contact us page.

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