This page provides information about your Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN) and why it is important to make sure that you only have one CHESSN, especially if you have studied with more than one provider.
What is a CHESSN?
A CHESSN is a unique, personal identification number that was allocated to you as part of your first application/enrolment process. Your CHESSN helps you, your provider, and the Australian Government, to keep up to date with the amount of Commonwealth assistance, like a HELP loan or a VSL loan, you have used for your studies.
You should only have one CHESSN for the duration of your studies – even if you change providers, or decide to start a new course a few years after completing another one, or change your name. You should always use the same CHESSN for all of your studies.
Your provider(s) will use your CHESSN to report any loan amounts you have used for your studies to the Department of Education.
Why is it important to only have one CHESSN?
Your CHESSN is an important identifier used to monitor and manage your Commonwealth assistance, especially for identifying whether you have reached your HELP loan limit. From 1 January 2020, your HELP loan limit will apply to all study for which you use HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP or a VET Student Loan to pay for your course.
Your HELP balance (how much more you can borrow) is calculated against individual CHESSNs. If you have more than one CHESSN, you might exceed your HELP loan limit because the loan limit will be applied to each CHESSN you have been issued. If you have been allocated multiple CHESSNs and the sum of the debts across those CHESSNs exceeds the HELP limit you cannot access HELP loans to pay for your course.
If you have received HELP loans in excess of the HELP limit, your provider will be required to return the funds to the Commonwealth and may seek repayment of the excess loan amount.
How to ensure you only have one CHESSN
The best way to ensure you only have one CHESSN is to keep a safe record of your CHESSN and give it to your provider when you enrol in a new course. If you have studied before, you can find your CHESSN on a past Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN) issued to you by your provider for that course. You can also call your past provider(s) and ask them for your CHESSN.
If you don’t give your CHESSN to your provider when you enrol in a new course, your provider will use the information on your enrolment form to check if you have already been allocated a CHESSN. It is important to provide as much information as possible when you enrol, so you have the best chance of matching your personal details in the department’s CHESSN database. It is also important that information is entered into the database consistently (ie: that ‘Given Name’ and ‘Middle Name’ are entered in the same format for every enrolment). Students who have changed their name or address since they last studied are at greater risk of not having their CHESSN matched in the database.
The more information you provide, the more robust the search will be, and this will reduce the possibility that you will be issued more than one CHESSN.
What if I’m already enrolled and studying a course?
To check that your provider(s) has reported your loan usage correctly, you can check your Commonwealth assistance notice (CAN). If you undertook study in a Commonwealth supported place, or used a HELP loan or VSL Loan for your study, your provider must send you a CAN after the census date for your unit(s). Students using a VSL Loan will also receive a Fee Notice before the census date. The CAN and Fee Notice must include certain information including your CHESSN, details of the amount of any upfront payment, or the loan amount for your study. Your provider may have sent your CAN/Fee Notice to your personal or student email address, or made it available to you via your student portal.
You should then use your CHESSN to log into myHELPbalance to confirm that your details reported by your provider(s) are correct. You can do this by cross-referencing the information in myHELPbalance against what is listed in your CAN. If you have studied more than one course in a Commonwealth supported place, or using a HELP loan or VSL loan, you should check that all of your courses are listed in your myHELPbalance exported full history. If you cannot see a course that you studied in your profile, it is possible that you have been issued more than one CHESSN.
What should I do if I have multiple CHESSNs?
If you have more than one CHESSN, or any other concerns about your CHESSN, you can let the department know by completing the Contact us.
How can I keep track of my HELP or VSL balance?
Using myHELPbalance will also help you monitor your loan usage and help you keep track of your HELP balance (how much more HELP or VSL assistance you can receive before you reach the HELP limit). If you don’t have enough HELP balance remaining for your studies, you may be required to pay upfront fees.