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FEE-HELP

Important notice — 2018 Student Loan Sustainability Bill

The 2018 Student Loan Sustainability Bill contains a number of measures that affect Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training students.

From 1 January 2020, a combined HELP loan limit will replace the FEE-HELP limit and will include FEE-HELP, VET Student Loans, VET FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP.

Only new HECS-HELP borrowing will count towards a person's HELP limit. This means that any HECS-HELP loans borrowed before 2020 will not count towards the new HELP limit.

Any FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loans that counted towards your FEE-HELP limit will now count towards the new HELP limit.

From the 2019- 20 income year, you can top up your HELP balance by making repayments on your loan.

Repayments starting from the 2019-20 income year will top up a person's HELP balance.

Any compulsory or voluntary repayments can be re-borrowed in the future, up to the current HELP loan limit.


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).


What is FEE‑HELP?

FEE‑HELP is a loan scheme that assists eligible fee paying students pay all or part of their tuition fees. It cannot be used for additional study costs such as accommodation or text books. The total amount of FEE‑HELP a person can use over their lifetime is known as the ‘FEE‑HELP limit’.

Once a person begins using FEE‑HELP, the amount of FEE‑HELP they have left to use is known as their ‘FEE-HELP balance’.

Important note: From 1 January 2020, a combined HELP loan limit will replace the FEE-HELP limit and will include FEE-HELP, VET Student Loans, VET FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP. Only new HECS-HELP borrowing will count towards a person's HELP limit. However, any existing FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loans you have already borrowed before 2020 will be carried over.

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Am I eligible for FEE‑HELP?

You are eligible for FEE‑HELP if you:

  • are studying at an approved FEE‑HELP provider (approved provider) or through Open Universities Australia (OUA);
  • meet the citizenship and residency requirements (see below);
  • are enrolled in an eligible unit of study by the census date for that unit;
  • have not exceeded the FEE‑HELP limit (see below); and
  • have maintained a minimum 50% unit pass rate, on previous studies that were funded via FEE-HELP. (NB: Only applies to students studying at Non-University Higher Education providers enrolled in new courses of study on or after 1 January 2018 and Open Universities Australia (OUA)).

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What are the FEE-HELP citizenship and residency requirements?

For Australian citizens

If you are an Australian citizen you will meet the FEE-HELP residency requirements if your university/higher education provider reasonably expects that you will undertake at least some of your course of study in Australia. You will not meet the FEE-HELP residency requirements if your university/higher education provider reasonably expects that you will not undertake any of your course in Australia. For example, if you intend on studying overseas via distance education for your entire course, then you would not meet the FEE-HELP residency requirements.

You will need to confirm with your university/higher education provider as to what their expectations are in relation to the residency requirements. In addition to FEE-HELP residency requirements, they often have their own specific requirements for distance education students – for example, it is not uncommon for them to expect that their distance education students complete a portion of their studies on campus in Australia, which could be one unit, or one semester etc.

For eligible New Zealand Special Category Visa holders

If you are a New Zealand Special Category Visa (NZ SCV) holder (who meets the specific NZ SCV residency requirements for HELP loans), you must be resident in Australia for the duration of your unit(s) to meet the FEE-HELP residency requirements (this is because you lose this visa, and hence your eligibility under the long-term NZ SCV provisions, when you depart Australia). However, any period of residence outside Australia will be disregarded if:

  • it cannot reasonably be regarded as indicating an intention to reside outside Australia for the duration of the unit; or
  • it is required for the purpose of completing a requirement of that unit.

For permanent humanitarian visa holders

If you are a permanent humanitarian visa holder, you must be resident in Australia for the duration of your unit(s) to meet the FEE-HELP residency requirements. However, any period of residence outside Australia will be disregarded if:

  • it cannot reasonably be regarded as indicating an intention to reside outside Australia for the duration of the unit; or
  • it is required for the purpose of completing a requirement of that unit.

For permanent visa holders undertaking bridging study for overseas-trained professionals

If you fall into this category, you must be resident in Australia for the duration of your requisite bridging study units to meet the residency requirements.

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How much can I borrow?

Eligible students can borrow up to the FEE‑HELP limit to pay their tuition fees.

For 2018, the FEE‑HELP limit is $102,392 for most students. For students undertaking medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses (as defined in the Higher Education Support Act 2003) the FEE‑HELP limit is $127,992.

For 2019, the new combined HELP loan limit will be $104,440 for most students. For students undertaking medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses, the HELP loan limit will be $150,000.

Note that the higher FEE‑HELP limit only applies to courses that lead to initial registration to practice in those fields. The lower limit will apply to any further study you undertake once you have gained the requisite level for initial registration.

Currently, the FEE‑HELP limit is a lifetime limit and is not reset or ‘topped up’ by any repayments that you make. The FEE‑HELP limit is the total amount available to eligible students under the FEE‑HELP, VET Student Loans and VET FEE‑HELP loan schemes. This means that any amount you borrow under FEE‑HELP, VET Student Loans or VET FEE‑HELP will reduce your FEE‑HELP balance until you have reached the FEE‑HELP limit.

From the 2019- 20 income year, you can top up your HELP balance by making repayments on your loan. Repayments starting from the 2019-20 income year will top up a person's HELP balance. Any compulsory or voluntary repayments can be re-borrowed in the future, up to the current HELP loan limit.

From 1 January 2020, a combined HELP loan limit will replace the FEE-HELP limit and will include FEE-HELP, VET Student Loans, VET FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP. Only new HECS-HELP borrowing will count towards a person's HELP limit. Any existing FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP or VET Student Loans that counted towards your FEE-HELP limit will now count towards the new HELP limit.

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Is there a loan fee?

There is a loan fee of 25% for FEE‑HELP loans for undergraduate courses of study only. The loan fee does not count towards your FEE‑HELP limit.

The loan fee does not apply for:

  • postgraduate study, including higher degrees by research;
  • enabling courses;
  • units of study undertaken through Open Universities Australia; or
  • bridging study for overseas-trained professionals.

Important note: From 1 January 2019, students studying an undergraduate course of study at Bond University, the University of Notre Dame Australia, Torrens University or the University of Divinity will no longer be charged the 25% FEE-HELP loan fee. This only applies to units of study with a census date on or after 1 January 2019.

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Am I studying at an approved FEE‑HELP provider?

Not all providers are approved to offer FEE‑HELP loans. You can only access FEE‑HELP at a university or other private higher education institution that has been approved under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to offer FEE‑HELP to eligible students. Some approved providers also offer access to units of study through OUA.

For a list of providers who are approved to offer FEE‑HELP, see Providers that offer Commonwealth assistance.

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Can I use FEE‑HELP for all my units of study?

You can only use FEE‑HELP for eligible units of study. An eligible unit of study is a subject or unit which:

  • is part of a domestic fee paying course of study leading to a higher education award (e.g. Bachelor Degree, Graduate Diploma, Doctor of Philosophy etc) with an approved provider or undertaken through OUA;
    OR
  • is part of bridging studies for overseas-trained professionals.

You may also be eligible for FEE‑HELP if you are undertaking an enabling course. Your approved provider will inform you if your course is classified as enabling.

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Will previous study or other debts affect my eligibility?

Yes it can, if you commenced your enrolment in your current course of study on or after 1 January 2018, then you need to maintain a minimum unit pass rate of 50% to remain eligible to receive FEE-HELP. Should your unit pass rate fall below 50%, you will lose access to FEE-HELP and you will need to pay for your units of study yourself. Once your pass rate reaches 50% again, you will then be able to regain access to FEE-HELP. Students who commenced their course of study in which they are currently enrolled, prior to 1 January 2018 are not subject to the 50% unit pass rate eligibility rule. (NB: The 50% unit pass rate, only applies to students studying at Non-University Higher Education providers and Open Universities Australia (OUA)). As long as you meet the above eligibility criteria and have enough of your FEE-HELP balance available to cover your tuition fees (refer below) you will be able to access FEE-HELP.

Remember, the FEE-HELP limit is a lifetime limit. Any loans used under FEE-HELP, VET Student Loans or VET-FEE HELP will reduce your FEE-HELP balance until you have reached the FEE-HELP limit.

From 1 January 2020, the FEE-HELP limit will become the combined HELP loan limit, and you can top up your HELP balance by making repayments on your loan. Repayments starting from the 2019-20 income year will top up a person's HELP balance. Any compulsory or voluntary repayments can be re-borrowed in the future, up to the then current HELP loan limit.

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How do I apply?

See Applying for FEE‑HELP for information on how to apply for a FEE‑HELP loan.

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How do I repay my FEE‑HELP loan?

See the Loan repayment page for information on repaying your loan.

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Need more information?

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions or ask a question via the Contact us page.

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