Remitting a HELP debt

You can only have your HELP debt remitted (and FEE-HELP balance re‑credited if applicable) under particular circumstances. There are no provisions under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) to have your debt remitted if you have already completed your unit or course of study.

If you withdraw from a unit after the census date because you become seriously ill or because of other ‘special circumstances’, you can apply to your provider to have your HELP debt remitted (and your FEE-HELP balance re-credited if applicable). See Withdrawing from study for further information.

If you withdrew from a unit after the census date because you changed your mind, you are legally obliged to repay your HELP debt and will not be able to apply to have your HELP debt remitted.

Please see the Budget 2014 - Student Overview page to find out how the 2014-15 Budget Announcement affects the FEE-HELP balance/limit.


Special circumstances

If you withdraw from a unit after the census date because you become seriously ill or because of other ‘special circumstances’, you can apply to your provider to have your HELP debt remitted (and your FEE-HELP balance re-credited if applicable). To remove any HELP debt, re-credit your FEE-HELP balance and refund any up-front payments, your provider must be satisfied that 'special circumstances' applied to you. You should check with the student administration area of your provider about how to apply for special circumstances. For a provider to be satisfied that special circumstances apply, you need to demonstrate that the circumstances:

  • were beyond your control;
  • did not make their full impact on you until on or after the census date(s) of the unit(s) in question; and
  • were such that they made it impracticable for you to complete the requirements for the unit(s).

Your provider will assess your application in accordance with the requirements of HESA and its associated guidelines. You will need to provide independent supporting documentation to support your claim that special circumstances applied. Note: You cannot apply to have your debt remitted under special circumstances if you have successfully completed the unit.

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Is there a time limit to apply under special circumstances?

Your application must reach your provider within 12 months of your withdrawal day. The ‘withdrawal day’ is the day your provider specifies in its notice to you as the day the withdrawal takes effect. If you didn’t officially withdraw, your withdrawal day is the last day of the period for which you were enrolled in the unit. Your provider may extend the time limit if it is satisfied that it was not possible for you to apply within the 12 months.

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Can I appeal the decision?

If you are unhappy with your provider's decision, you should apply to them in writing within 28 days for a review of the decision. If you are unhappy with your provider’s review decision, you can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) within 28 days for a review. For more information, visit
www.aat.gov.au (opens in new window)

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What happens if my application for special circumstances is approved?

If your provider has approved a remission of your HELP debt, they will submit a "revisions file" to the Department. Once this is processed at the Department, they then report the remission to the ATO and your HELP debt will be removed automatically. You do not need to claim anything through your tax return. You should note that the remittance process is a lengthy one, whereby data needs to be reported and validated by three separate entities (your provider, the Department and the ATO) before being returned to you.

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