OS-HELP loans and overseas study

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).

Study overseas

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).

HELP loans are not available for an Australian student who is enrolled at an overseas institution completing a qualification that will be awarded by the overseas institution.

If you are enrolled in a course of study with an approved Australian higher education provider (provider) and you wish to undertake part of your study overseas, you may be eligible to access a HELP loan for the portion of your overseas exchange. HECS‑HELP and FEE‑HELP loans are only available in this capacity if the overseas portion of your study is covered by a formal exchange agreement between the Australian provider and the overseas provider. OS‑HELP loans are available to Commonwealth supported students who want to undertake study overseas, whether this study is covered by a formal exchange agreement or not. You should contact the student administration area of your provider for more information.

For information on options available to Australians studying overseas, please visit the Study Overseas Portal (opens in a new window).

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What is an OS‑HELP loan?

OS‑HELP is a loan available to eligible students enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place who want to undertake some of their study overseas. OS‑HELP can be used for a range of expenses such as airfares, accommodation, and other travel or study expenses. Students may receive one loan per six-month study period and can access a total of two OS‑HELP loans over their lifetime. A student's overseas study must take place within the relevant six-month study period of the OS-HELP loan.

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Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible for OS‑HELP if you meet ALL of the below criteria:

  • You have been selected by your provider to receive an OS‑HELP loan for a six month period (students must contact their provider regarding the application process)
  • you are an Australian citizen, permanent humanitarian visa holder or a New Zealand Special Category Visa holder who meets the long-term residency requirements;
  • you have not received an OS‑HELP loan on more than one other occasion;
  • you are enrolled with an Australian provider as a Commonwealth supported student and have completed one equivalent full-time student load (EFTSL) - which is usually one year of full-time study;
  • you will be undertaking full-time study overseas and your overseas study will count towards the course requirements for the Australian course of study in which you are enrolled;
  • you will have at least 0.125 EFTSL of your course of study left to complete once you have finished your overseas study (usually one unit of study); and
  • you meet the tax file number (TFN) requirements:
    • you must give your provider your valid TFN (if your information is not assessed as correct by the ATO, your application will not be finalised and you will be ineligible for a OS-HELP loan); OR
    • if you don’t have a TFN you can give your provider a Certificate of application for a TFN. This certificate is available from the Australian Taxation Office (opens in a new window) after you have applied for a TFN.
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OS‑HELP for study in Asia.

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What kind of study can I undertake overseas to receive OS‑HELP?

The type of overseas study for which you may be able to receive OS‑HELP assistance could include semester or year-long exchanges, study tours, clinical placements and internships. You should check with your provider to find out what kinds of overseas study experience you are allowed to take as part of your course.

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How do I apply for OS‑HELP?

You must apply to your higher education provider for an OS‑HELP loan. As each provider runs its own application and selection process, you should contact your provider for information about how to obtain an OS‑HELP loan.

To receive an OS‑HELP loan, you will need a tax file number and an OS‑HELP debt confirmation form. As TFNs are usually provided within 28 days of application, it is essential that you apply to ensure you have your TFN by the date required. If you do not have a TFN by the date required, you will need to arrange a Certificate of application for a TFN with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Contact the ATO on 13 28 61 for TFN information.

You will need to complete the form (only available from your provider), sign it, and submit it directly to your provider. Make sure you include your TFN (or a Certificate of application for a TFN), otherwise your form will not be valid.

Privacy notice for the Commonwealth Assistance Forms.

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How much can I borrow?

In 2018, the maximum you can borrow for a six-month study period is:

  • $6,665 (if you will not be studying in Asia); or
  • $7,998 if you will be studying in Asia; and
  • an additional $1,065 if you will be undertaking Asian language study in preparation for study in Asia.


The amount you can borrow using an OS‑HELP loan is determined by your provider in accordance with their OS‑HELP policy, the OS‑HELP Guidelines and the Higher Education Support Act 2003.

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How do I repay my OS‑HELP loan?

See Loan repayment for information on making repayments.

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Need more information?

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

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