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Cancelling* a HELP debt under 'Special Circumstances'

You can only have your HELP (including VET Student Loans) debt cancelled* under particular circumstances. There are no provisions under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) or the VET Student Loans Act 2016 to have your HELP debt cancelled under special circumstances if you have successfully completed your unit of study.

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 cancelled.

If you did not successfully complete the requirements of a unit, or you withdrew from a unit after the census date because you became seriously ill or because of other 'special circumstances', you can apply to your provider to have your HELP debt cancelled (and your FEE HELP balance re-credited if applicable). See Withdrawing from study for further information.

*sometimes called remitting

Note for VET FEE-HELP students only
Stronger protections for students were introduced to the VET FEE-HELP scheme on 1 January 2016. If you have experienced "unacceptable conduct" by your VET provider or its agent, go here for information about how to cancel your VET FEE-HELP debt under the "unacceptable conduct" provisions.

Special circumstances

To remove a HELP debt (or refund an upfront payment), 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 special circumstances:

  • were beyond your control; and
  • 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 cancelled under special circumstances if you have successfully completed the unit.

Is there a time limit to apply under special circumstances?

Your application must reach your provider within 12 months of your census day. The ‘census day’ is the last day you can submit your Request for Commonwealth assistance form (to access a Commonwealth supported place or a HELP loan) or withdraw your enrolment without incurring the fees or a HELP debt. Each provider is responsible for setting their own census dates, so this date will vary across different courses and different providers. Your provider may extend the time limit if it is satisfied that it was not possible for you to apply within the 12 months.

Can I appeal the decision?

If you are unhappy with your provider's decision, you need to apply to your provider in writing within 28 days for an internal review of the decision. If you are unhappy with your provider’s internal review decision, you can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) within 28 days for an external review. For more information, visit

If my application is successful, how long will it be before my debt is cancelled?

The cancellation process can be lengthy due to the number of administrative steps occurring behind the scenes.

Your provider will need to submit a 'revisions file' to the department to trigger the cancellation of your debt. The department then reports the cancellation to the ATO, and your tax record is updated to reflect the cancelled debt.

Depending on the date of the cancellation and the reporting schedule, it may take up to six months for the cancellation to transmit to your tax information with the ATO.

How can I check to see if my debt has been cancelled?

  1. Log on to the myUniAssist portal.
    Note: To log on to myUniAssist, you will need your Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN). Your CHESSN is listed on your Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN) - and your CAN is sent to you by your provider.

    If you don’t have your CHESSN, complete the Student HELP Loan enquiry form and provide your date of birth so the department can email your CHESSN to you or alternatively you can contact your provider.
  2. If your debt is showing up on myUniAssist, you should then contact your provider and find out when they submitted the 'revisions file' to the department.
  • If it’s less than six months since the revision file was reported, it is likely there are data reporting delays. Check again after a six-month period has elapsed.
  • If it’s more than six months since the revision file was submitted, or your provider has not submitted the revisions file, contact the department using the Student HELP Loan enquiry form

You can view your HELP debt online via the myGov website.

Information about repaying your loan is available from the Paying Back My Loan page.

What if I have to make a compulsory repayment

You can talk to the ATO about deferring your compulsory repayment or arrange another repayment option until your debt is cancelled and the information has been corrected. In this situation, you will need to talk to the ATO for assistance.