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HELP loans

If you're going to study at a university or higher education provider, you might be enrolled in a place where the Australian Government pays part of your fees. This is called a Commonwealth supported place (CSP).

If you're enrolled in a CSP, you still have to pay some of your fees. You could get a HECS-HELP loan to pay for these.

If you aren't enrolled in a CSP, you are enrolled in a fee paying place. You could get a FEE-HELP loan to pay for your fees.

Each semester you might have to pay a fee for student services and amenities. You could get a SA-HELP loan to cover this fee.

If you're enrolled in a CSP and want to study overseas, you could get an OS-HELP loan to help pay your expenses.

Job-ready Graduates Package

On 19 October 2020, the Job-ready Graduates Package was passed as legislation in parliament. This means from 1 January 2021, there will be changes that may affect your student contributions, and new ways the Government can support students in regional and remote Australia.

We encourage both current and new students to talk to their higher education provider to confirm how these changes may affect their individual circumstances.

For more information on how these changes may affect your student contribution amount, please visit the Student contribution page.

More information on the additional support for students in regional and remote areas, including the new Tertiary Access Payment, Fares Allowance and the guaranteed Commonwealth supported places for Indigenous students can be found on the Support for students page.

Important notice - legislation changes that affect your HELP loan

For units of study from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2021 inclusive, undergraduate FEE-HELP assisted students will be exempt from loan fees. This is to encourage students to commence or continue study during the COVID 19 pandemic.

From 1 July 2021, FEE-HELP loan fees for undergraduate fee-paying places at higher education providers will be reduced to 20 per cent (from 25 per cent). The reduction of the loan fee reduces the financial burden on students and continues to support the sustainability of the HELP scheme. 

These changes apply to units of study with a census date on or after 1 July 2021.

This will mean that students enrolled in these places will pay the same loan fees as fee-paying students who access VET Student Loans.

Approximately 50,000 undergraduate students accessing FEE-HELP at non-university higher education providers (NUHEPS), and at Table A universities, will have their loan fees reduced to 20 per cent of the value of their HELP loans. 

The 2018 Student Loan Sustainability Act changed the arrangements for all Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loans:

  • HELP debt repayment rates have changed and the minimum repayment threshold was lowered from 1 July 2019.

  • The HELP loan limit is indexed each year by the Consumer Price Index. The 2020 HELP loan limit is $106,319 for most students and $152,700 for students studying eligible medicine, dentistry, veterinary science and aviation courses.

  • The HELP loan limit includes loans from the FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP (with a census date on or after 1 January 2020) and VET Student Loans schemes and is called the 'combined HELP loan limit'.

  • A person's HELP balance is renewable. This means that if you reach the HELP loan limit, you can make repayments on your HELP or VSL debt and access HELP until you reach the limit again. Repayments starting from the 2019–20 income year will top up a person's HELP balance.

Amendments were made in June 2020 to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA).

  • From 1 January 2021, it is compulsory for new students commencing in 2021 to apply for and obtain a Unique Student Identifier (USI) in order to be eligible for Commonwealth assistance (Commonwealth supported place (CSP) and/or HELP loan).

  • The Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN) will be gradually decommissioned and replaced by the USI.

Up-front payment discount

If you make an upfront payment of $500 or more on your HECS-HELP loan you will receive a 10 per cent discount. The discount is an incentive to pay up-front, either fully or partially, and will decrease your student debt.

The HECS HELP up-front payment discount will apply for up-front payments of $500 or more for units of study with a census date on or after 1 January 2021.

Very remote teachers HELP debt remission

A qualified teacher, including an early childhood teacher, who relocates to a very remote area of Australia (using the ABS Remote Structure) on or after the start of the 2019 school year, and remains teaching for at least four years in six, may be eligible to have their outstanding HELP debt remitted.

To be eligible, individuals must be engaged as a teacher at any of the following:

  • a school providing primary or secondary education
  • a centre based day care service
  • a preschool.

This initiative also applies to an individual currently teaching in a very remote area of Australia who remains for a further four years. Service prior to the start of the 2019 school year will not count towards the four year requirement.

Teachers working in a very remote area of Australia are able to have indexation on their outstanding HELP debt waived while they remain teaching in that area. There is no length of service requirement for indexation waivers. This is available for eligible teachers from 14 February 2019.

Once teachers are no longer teaching in a very remote area, indexation on any remaining HELP debt will recommence.

Answers to frequently asked questions, application forms and the lists of very remote schools, preschools and centre based day care services can be found on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website –

https://www.education.gov.au/remission-higher-education-loan-program-debts-teachers-very-remote-areas

For further information please contact veryremotehelp [at] dese.gov.au.

Increased HELP loan limit for aviation courses

Students undertaking eligible aviation courses of study, with census dates after 1 January 2020, can access the higher combined HELP loan limit. The list of eligible courses can be found here.