When you attend university or an approved higher education provider, you can get a FEE-HELP loan to pay all or part of your tuition fees.
A FEE-HELP loan does not cover costs like accommodation, laptops or text books.
Your provider will assess your eligibility for a FEE-HELP loan against the criteria below. If you have any questions, please contact your provider.
To get a FEE-HELP loan, you must:
- be an Australian citizen and study at least part of your course in Australia
- be a New Zealand Special Category visa (SCV) holder or permanent humanitarian visa holder and meet the residency requirements
- be enrolled in a fee-paying place at a provider that offers FEE-HELP loans
- be enrolled in an eligible course at your provider by the census date (your provider can tell you if your course is eligible)
- submit the Request for FEE-HELP loan form to your provider by the census date
- maintain a pass rate of more than 50 per cent
- have an available HELP balance.
You can borrow up to the combined HELP loan limit to pay your tuition fees. This includes all FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP and VET Student Loans and any HECS-HELP loans incurred from 1 January 2020.
Once you begin using your HELP loan limit, the amount of HELP you have left to borrow is known as your available 'HELP balance'.
For 2021, the HELP loan limit is $108,232. If you plan to study medicine, dentistry, or veterinary science leading to initial registration, or eligible aviation courses the HELP loan limit is $155,448.
Your HELP balance is renewable. Any compulsory or voluntary HELP or VSL debt repayments starting from the 2019–20 income year will top up a person's HELP balance. These repayments will be applied to a person's HELP balance from 1 July 2020 onwards. Repayments can be re-borrowed in the future, up to the current HELP loan limit.
You can check you HELP balance on myHELPbalance
To check your balance you need to know your Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN). A CHESSN is a unique identifying number. It is important that you only have one CHESSN.
For information on the combined HELP loan limit, please visit the 2020 loan limit changes page.
If you began your current enrolment with a non-university higher education provider on or after 1 January 2018 and apply for FEE-HELP, the 50% pass rate will apply.
If you begin your enrolment with a public or private university on or after 1 January 2022 and apply for a Commonwealth supported place (CSP), HECS-HELP or FEE HELP, the 50 per cent pass rate will apply.
This means that once you have undertaken 4 or more units in a sub-bachelor level course, or 8 or more units in bachelor and above level courses, you must have passed at least 50 per cent of your total attempted units in order to remain eligible for a CSP, HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP.
For example, if you are enrolled in a diploma course, use FEE-HELP to pay for your Trimester 1 fees, and in Trimester 1 you undertake 4 units and fail 3, you will not be eligible to access FEE-HELP in Trimester 2. You would have needed to pass at least 2 units.
Then if in Trimester 2, having paid for your units upfront you undertook another 4 units (8 units in total), you would need to pass 3 of those in order to re-establish your FEE-HELP eligibility in Trimester 3 (i.e. 8 units attempted and 4 passed.
What you need to ensure is that you pass at least 50% of your total attempted units across your course of study. Otherwise you will have to pay the tuition fees upfront until you improve your pass rate.
If you choose to change courses or providers, your completion rate does not follow you, allowing you to re-set the clock on the 50 per cent pass rate. You may choose to pay for units up-front in your course to allow you to increase your success rate and regain eligibility for Commonwealth assistance.
If you have a low completion rate and you can demonstrate 'special circumstances' have adversely affected your academic performance, your education provider can allow consideration for these impacts.
Note: OUA has its own pass rate requirements in place, where a student must undertake 8 or more units for the pass rate to apply.
Currently, if you get a FEE-HELP loan to pay for your undergraduate course, you will have to pay a 25 per cent loan fee*. Under the new Job-ready Graduates Package, from 1 July 2021, the loan fee will reduce to 20 per cent for units of study with a census date on or after 1 July 2021.
The loan fee does NOT apply to you if:
- you study at Bond University, the University of Notre Dame Australia, Torrens University or the University of Divinity and your unit of study has a census date after 1 January 2019
- your course is postgraduate study (including higher degrees by research) or is an enabling course
- you are enrolled in units of study through Open Universities Australia
- you are getting a FEE-HELP loan to pay for approved bridging studies.
*The loan fee does not count towards your combined HELP limit.
Loan fee exemption
On 12 April 2020, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, the Minister for Education and Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, announced the Higher Education Relief Package. This was in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the Higher Education Relief Package, to encourage students to commence or continue study during Semester 2 2020, undergraduates accessing FEE-HELP won't be charged a FEE-HELP loan fee for units of study with a census date between 1 April and 30 September 2020. The loan fee exemption will be automatically applied when your loan data is submitted by your provider to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. More information on the Higher Education Relief Package can be found on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.
On 30 September 2020, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, the Minister for Education and Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, announced an extension to the loan fee exemption through to 30 June 2021.
To get a FEE-HELP loan, you will need a tax file number (TFN) and a Request for a FEE-HELP loan form, which your provider will give you.
Your form must be filled in and submitted to your provider before the census date (or administrative date).