HECS-HELP

 

What is HECS‑HELP?

The HECS‑HELP scheme is both a student loan and a student discount. Eligible students may access a HECS‑HELP loan to pay their student contribution amounts, or receive a 10% discount (known as the HECS-HELP discount) on upfront payments of $500 or more.

The HECS‑HELP discount works by increasing the value of a student's upfront payment. This means that the student will actually pay less for their studies if they make an eligible upfront payment. Please refer to the example below for more information about how the HECS-HELP discount and loan can work together.

Note: The HECS‑HELP 10% discount (not the HECS-HELP loan) will be removed from 1 January 2017.
Until that date, the current arrangements still apply for units of study that have a census date on or before 31 December 2016.

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Am I eligible for HECS‑HELP?

To be eligible for HECS‑HELP, you must:

  • be studying in a Commonwealth supported place;
  • be an Australian citizen; or
  • be a New Zealand Special Category Visa holder who meets the long-term residency requirements; or
  • be a permanent humanitarian visa holder;
  • be enrolled in each unit at your university by the census date;
  • meet the relevant HECS-HELP residency requirements;
  • read the HECS‑HELP and Commonwealth supported places information booklet; and
  • submit a valid Request for Commonwealth support and HECS‑HELP form by the census date (or earlier administrative date) to your university.
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What are the HECS-HELP residency requirements?

For Australian citizens

If you are an Australian citizen you will meet the HECS-HELP residency requirements if your university reasonably expects that you will undertake at least some of your course of study in Australia.

You will not meet the HECS-HELP residency requirements if your university 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 HECS-HELP residency requirements.

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 HECS-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 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 HECS-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.

 

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Who is not eligible for HECS-HELP?

If you are a permanent (non-humanitarian) visa holder, or a New Zealand citizen (who either does not meet the NZ SCV residency requirements for HELP loans or does not hold Australian citizenship), you are not eligible for HECS-HELP. You must pay your student contributions upfront to your university by the census date.

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How does the HECS‑HELP discount work if I pay all my student contribution as an upfront payment?

To pay your full student contribution upfront, you only need to pay 90% of the total because the Government pays the other 10%, the HECS‑HELP discount, directly to your university.

Note: The HECS-HELP discount will be removed from 1 January 2017. Until that date the current arrangements still apply for units of study that have a census date on or before 31 December 2016

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How does the HECS‑HELP discount work if I pay only part of my student contribution upfront?

If you are eligible, you can receive the HECS-HELP discount for upfront student contribution payments of $500 or more. You may choose to pay some of your student contributions upfront, and defer the rest with a HECS-HELP loan. Below is an examples of how the HECS-HELP discount is calculated for a partial upfront payment that is eligible for the HECS-HELP discount.

Example - how the HECS‑HELP discount and loan works with a partial upfront payment.

Marnie undertakes 4 units as part of her Bachelor of Engineering, all with a census date of 31 March 2013, and is eligible for HECS‑HELP. The total student contribution for these units is $3,000.

 

Marnie makes a partial upfront payment of $500 before the census date, which means her payment, including the discount, is $500 x 1.1111 = $555.50. Her HECS‑HELP debt will therefore be $3,000 - $555.50 = $2,444.50.

The Australian Government will pay the loan amount ($2,444.50), plus the amount of the discount ($555.50 – $500 = $55.50) to Marnie’s university on her behalf. Because of her upfront payment, Marnie will defer the student contribution amount she hasn’t paid ($2,444.50) with a HECS‑HELP loan. Marnie will be required to repay her debt through the tax system when she earns above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.

Note: The HECS-HELP discount will be removed from 1 January 2017. Until that date, the current arrangements still apply for units of study that have a census date on or before 31 December 2016

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What if I don’t want to pay any amount upfront?

If you are eligible, you can use a HECS-HELP loan for the whole amount.

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How much will a HECS‑HELP loan cost me?

There is no real interest charged on HECS‑HELP loans. However, your debt will be indexed each year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index to maintain its real value.

The indexation adjustment is made by the Australian Taxation Office on 1 June each year and applies to the portion of your debt that has been unpaid for 11 months or more. For more information see Interest and indexation.

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Can I change my payment option?

You can change your HECS‑HELP payment option before the census date (or earlier administrative date) for the relevant study period. If you have not made an upfront payment by the census date, any unpaid student contribution amount at the end of the census date will be deferred automatically as a HECS‑HELP loan (and become a HELP debt), provided you have included your TFN on your submitted Request for Commonwealth support and HECS‑HELP form.

If you have any further queries about changing your payment option, the student administration/enrolments area of your university will be able to assist you.

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How do I repay my HECS‑HELP loan?

See Paying back my loan for more information on repaying your HECS‑HELP loan.

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Need more information?

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions or ask a question via the Contact us page.

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