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 amount. Alternatively, eligible students can access the HECS‑HELP discount by receiving a 10% discount on any upfront payment of $500 or more, if they choose not to use a HECS‑HELP loan.

The HECS‑HELP discount works by increasing the value of a person’s upfront payment. This means that they will actually pay less for their studies if they pay their whole or partial student contribution amount upfront. Please refer to the examples below for more information.

Note: The Government intends to remove the HECS‑HELP discount. Until the relevant legislation is passed, the current arrangements apply.

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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 permanent humanitarian visa holder;
  • enrol with a provider in each unit, by the census date;
  • meet the residency requirements;
  • read the HECS‑HELP, 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 provider.
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What are the residency requirements?

Students are eligible for HELP loans if they undertake, in Australia, at least one unit of study contributing to their course.

If you intend on studying from 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 institute believes that you will not be in Australia undertaking any units contributing to your course of study.

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Can I use HECS‑HELP if I’m a New Zealand citizen or a permanent visa holder?

No. New Zealand citizens and non-humanitarian permanent visa holders are not eligible for a HECS‑HELP loan or discounts for up-front payments of student contributions (unless the New Zealand citizen is also an Australian citizen).

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

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

Please note that the upfront payment discount could be removed from as early as 1 January 2015. For further information, see the following news item.

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

Not all students can afford to pay their whole student contribution up-front. In this case, eligible students can pay part of their contribution up-front and defer the rest through the HECS‑HELP loan. Even partial upfront student contribution payments of $500 or more are eligible for the HECS‑HELP discount.

Example - how the HECS‑HELP discount and loan works with a partial up-front 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 up-front 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 provider on her behalf. Because of her up-front 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.

Please note that the voluntary repayment bonus could be removed from as early as 1 January 2015. For further information, see the following news item.

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What if I don’t want to pay any amount up-front?

Eligible students who don’t want to pay any of their student contribution amounts up-front can use a HECS‑HELP loan for the whole amount. Students who use a HECS‑HELP loan will be required to pay their debt through the tax system when they earn above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.

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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.

Important: See the Higher Education reform package page to find out how these reforms affect indexation applied to HELP loans.

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Can I change my payment option?

You can change your HECS‑HELP payment option before the census date or administrative date for the relevant study period. If you have not made an up front payment by the census or administrative date, any unpaid student contribution amount at 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 area of your provider 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 the Contact us page.

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