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Maths and Science

HECS-HELP Benefit for mathematics or science graduates

Eligible mathematics or science graduates, who graduate after 30 June 2008 and take up employment in specified related occupations are able to apply for the HECS-HELP Benefit.

The HECS-HELP Benefit reduces compulsory HELP debt repayments.

Note: Related occupations include the teaching of these subjects in secondary school and primary school teaching.

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Am I eligible?

You are eligible for the Benefit if you:

  • graduated from an eligible undergraduate 'natural or physical science' course after 30 June 2008;
  • were a Commonwealth supported student for some or all of that course;
  • had a HECS-HELP debt at course completion for that course;
  • still have a HELP debt to repay in the income year for which you are applying;
  • are required to make a compulsory HELP debt repayment for the income year of your application; and
  • were employed for at least one week in an eligible occupation in the income year for which you are applying.

There is a lifetime limit of 260 weeks for the Benefit as a mathematics or science graduate. That means eligible applicants could receive this HECS‑HELP Benefit for 5 years of eligible employment.

You are not eligible if you:

  • did not complete a eligible course.
  • did not have a HECS-HELP debt for your eligible course when completed.
  • are not required to make a compulsory HELP debt repayment in the income year.
  • only undertook some units in the mathematics or science field
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What is an eligible course?

You will only be eligible for the HECS-HELP Benefit as a mathematics or science graduate if your course is classified by your university as a 'natural and physical science' course of study. A 'natural and physical science' course is a course that is listed under the field of 'natural and physical sciences' (Broad Field 01) in the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED) 2001 (opens in new window).

  • Natural and physical science is the systematic study, through experiment, observation and deduction, of phenomena of the material and physical world.
  • Natural sciences are the earth sciences and the life sciences which study the earth and all living organisms.
  • Physical sciences comprise mathematics (including statistics), physics and chemistry.

You can check with your university to determine whether your course is eligible or refer to the list of eligible courses below.

Please note that individual universities are responsible for making the determination of whether a course fits the '01' ASCED classification. This means that similar courses offered at different universities won't necessarily be classified the same.

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Eligible mathematics and science courses for the HECS-HELP Benefit

Note: These are not definitive lists of eligible courses and only include reported course completions from 2008 to 2015. If you believe you have graduated from an eligible course that is not listed please confirm with your provider both your course’s code and its HECS-HELP Benefit eligibility. You may then wish to apply to the ATO. See the information below under the ‘How to Apply’ heading.

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How much will my reduction be?

The Benefit is calculated on a pro-rata basis according to the number of weeks worked in the income year period. The amount of HECS-HELP Benefit that you can receive depends on your HELP debt when you completed your mathematics or science course and the number of weeks worked in an eligible occupation.

The maximum HECS-HELP Benefit as a mathematics or science graduate is:

  • $1,500 for the 2008–09 income year;
  • $1,558.50 for the 2009–10 income year;
  • $1,588.11 for the 2010–11 income year;
  • $1,635.75 for the 2011–12 income year;
  • $1,683.19 for the 2012–13 income year;
  • $1,716.85 for the 2013–14 income year;
  • $1,761.49 for the 2014–15 income year;
  • $1,798.48 for the 2015–16 income year; and
  • $1,825.46 for the 2016-17 income year.

The 2016-2017 income year is the last for which someone can claim the HECS-HELP Benefit.

Anna completed an eligible undergraduate science degree in November 2008 and worked as a chemistry technician from January 2009 to June 2009 for a period of 26 employed weeks in the 2008‑09 income year. Anna incurred a HECS-HELP debt of $12,000 upon completion of her science degree. Anna lodges her 2008‑09 income tax return in August 2009 and applies for the HECS-HELP benefit at the same time. Her repayment income is $60,000 and her compulsory repayment is $3,600.

Anna’s HECS-HELP benefit amount is calculated as follows:

Maximum Benefit* ÷ 52 x weeks employed = Benefit received

$1,500 ÷ 52 x 26 = $750

*Maximum HECS-HELP Benefit amount for the income year for a mathematics or science graduate.

Anna's accumulated HELP debt is reduced by $750. Anna is required to make a HELP debt repayment of $2,850 ($3,600 - $750).

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Eligible occupations for mathematics or science graduates

To be eligible for the HECS-HELP Benefit as a mathematics or science graduate you must, along with other eligibility criteria, be employed for at least one week in the income year for which you are applying, in an occupation that is specified in the attachment below.

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How do I apply for the benefit?

Applications for the mathematics or science HECS-HELP Benefit may be made to the ATO from 1 July 2009, preferably at the same time that you submit your income tax return. More information on applying for a HECS-HELP Benefit is available on the ATO website (opens in a new window).

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