FEE-HELP

Important notice - Higher Education reforms announcement

The Australian Government has announced a range of reforms to improve the higher education sector. These reforms will deliver a more sustainable sector, more choices for students and increase transparency and accountability in higher education.

For more information about how these changes might affect you, click here.

For more detail about the reform measures, visit the Department of Education and Training Higher Education Reforms webpage (opens in a new tab).


Important note:
From 1 January 2016, New Zealand Special Category Visa (SCV) holders may be eligible to access HELP loans provided they came to Australia as a dependent child and meet the relevant residency criteria. This page will be updated shortly. In the interim, for more information, please read the information at: FAQs NZ (opens in a new window)

FEE‑HELP is a loan scheme that assists eligible fee paying students pay all or part of their tuition fees. It cannot be used for additional study costs such as accommodation or text books. The total amount of FEE‑HELP a person can use is known as the ‘FEE‑HELP limit’.

Once a person begins using FEE‑HELP, the amount of FEE‑HELP they have left to use is known as their ‘FEE‑HELP balance’.

Am I eligible for FEE‑HELP?

You are eligible for FEE‑HELP if you:

  • are studying at an approved FEE‑HELP provider (approved provider) or through Open Universities Australia (OUA);
  • meet the citizenship and residency requirements (see below);
  • are enrolled in an eligible unit of study by the census date for that unit; and
  • have not exceeded the FEE‑HELP limit (see below).
Return to top

What are the FEE-HELP citizenship and residency requirements?

For Australian citizens

If you are an Australian citizen you will meet the FEE-HELP residency requirements if your university/higher education provider reasonably expects that you will undertake at least some of your course of study in Australia. You will not meet the FEE-HELP residency requirements if your university/higher education provider reasonably expects that you will not undertake any of your course in Australia. For example, if you intend on studying overseas via distance education for your entire course, then you would not meet the FEE-HELP residency requirements.

You will need to confirm with your university/higher education provider as to what their expectations are in relation to the residency requirements. In addition to FEE-HELP residency requirements, they often have their own specific requirements for distance education students – for example, it is not uncommon for them to expect that their distance education students complete a portion of their studies on campus in Australia, which could be one unit, or one semester etc.

For eligible New Zealand Special Category Visa holders

If you are a New Zealand Special Category Visa (NZ SCV) holder (who meets the specific NZ SCV residency requirements for HELP loans), you must be resident in Australia for the duration of your unit(s) to meet the FEE-HELP residency requirements (this is because you lose this visa, and hence your eligibility under the long-term NZ SCV provisions, when you depart Australia). However, 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.

For permanent humanitarian visa holders

If you are a permanent humanitarian visa holder, you must be resident in Australia for the duration of your unit(s) to meet the FEE-HELP residency requirements. However, 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.

For permanent visa holders undertaking bridging study for overseas-trained professionals

If you fall into this category, you must be resident in Australia for the duration of your requisite bridging study units to meet the residency requirements.

Return to top

How much can I borrow?

Eligible students can borrow up to the FEE‑HELP limit to pay their tuition fees.

For 2016, the FEE‑HELP limit is $99,389 for most students. For students undertaking medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses (as defined in the Higher Education Support Act 2003) the FEE‑HELP limit is $124,238.

For 2017, the FEE‑HELP limit is $100,879 for most students. For students undertaking medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses (as defined in the Higher Education Support Act 2003) the FEE‑HELP limit is $126,101.

For 2018, the FEE‑HELP limit is $102,392 for most students. For students undertaking medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses (as defined in the Higher Education Support Act 2003) the FEE‑HELP limit is $127,992.

Note that the higher FEE‑HELP limit only applies to courses that lead to initial registration to practise in those fields. The lower limit will apply to any further study you undertake once you have gained the requisite level for initial registration.

The FEE‑HELP limit is a lifetime limit and is not reset or ‘topped up’ by any repayments that you make. The FEE‑HELP limit is the total amount available to eligible students under the FEE‑HELP, VET Student Loans and VET FEE‑HELP loan schemes. This means that any amount you borrow under FEE‑HELP, VET Student Loans or VET FEE‑HELP will reduce your FEE‑HELP balance until you have reached the FEE‑HELP limit.

Return to top

Is there a loan fee?

There is a loan fee of 25% for FEE‑HELP loans for undergraduate courses of study only. The loan fee does not count towards your FEE‑HELP limit.

The loan fee does not apply for:

  • postgraduate study, including higher degrees by research;
  • enabling courses;
  • units of study undertaken through Open Universities Australia; or
  • bridging study for overseas-trained professionals.
Return to top

Am I studying at an approved FEE‑HELP provider?

Not all providers are approved to offer FEE‑HELP loans. You can only access FEE‑HELP at a university or other private higher education institution that has been approved under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to offer FEE‑HELP to eligible students. Some approved providers also offer access to units of study through OUA.

For a list of providers who are approved to offer FEE‑HELP, see Providers that offer Commonwealth assistance.

Return to top

Can I use FEE‑HELP for all my units of study?

You can only use FEE‑HELP for eligible units of study. An eligible unit of study is a subject or unit which:

  • is part of a domestic fee paying course of study leading to a higher education award (e.g. Bachelor Degree, Graduate Diploma, Doctor of Philosophy etc) with an approved provider or undertaken through OUA;
    OR
  • is part of bridging studies for overseas-trained professionals.

You may also be eligible for FEE‑HELP if you are undertaking an enabling course. Your approved provider will inform you if your course is classified as enabling.

Return to top

Will previous study or other debts affect my eligibility?

No (unless you have already reached your FEE‑HELP limit). Any previous study you have undertaken, and any other financial debts you may have incurred will not affect your eligibility to access a FEE‑HELP loan. As long as you meet the above eligibility criteria and have enough of your FEE‑HELP balance (see below) left to cover your tuition fees, you will be able to access FEE‑HELP.

Remember, the FEE‑HELP limit is a lifetime limit. Any loans used under FEE‑HELP, VET Student Loans or VET FEE‑HELP will reduce your FEE‑HELP balance until you have reached the FEE‑HELP limit.

Return to top

How do I apply?

See Applying for FEE‑HELP for information on how to apply for a FEE‑HELP loan.

Return to top

How do I repay my FEE‑HELP loan?

See the Loan repayment page for information on repaying your loan.

Return to top

Need more information?

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

Return to top