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
Minister for Education Dan Tehan announced the Job-ready Graduates Package (the package) of reforms to higher education on 19 June 2020.
Under the package, the Government’s funding of more than $18 billion in 2020 to fund Australia’s universities will grow to $20 billion by 2024. The package will create more 100,000 new university places by 2030 and will provide additional support for students in regional and remote Australia.
The changes will deliver more job-ready graduates in the disciplines and regions where they are needed most and help drive the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The package will ensure better university funding arrangements, a better integrated tertiary system, targeted investments in national priorities, improved transparency and accountability, and more opportunities for regional, remote and Indigenous students.
The Higher Education Support Amendment (Job-Ready Graduates and Supporting Regional and Remote Students) Bill 2020 was introduced into the House of Representatives on 26 August 2020 and passed the House of Representatives on 1 September 2020.
On 3 September 2020, the Senate referred this Bill to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee, with a reporting date of 25 September 2020. Information about this process is now available. For more information, visit the Job-ready Graduates Package page.
Important notice - legislation changes that affect your HELP loan
From 1 January 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 supports the sustainability of the HELP scheme and reduces the financial burden on students.
These changes apply to units of study with a census date on or after 1 January 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 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.
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 or
- a preschool
This initiative also applies to individuals 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 –
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.