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AU Tax 2024

Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) Explained

The Australian Government's Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) assists eligible students with their student contribution or tuition fees:

There are different types of HELP loans available, depending on the student's circumstances. If you have obtained one of these loans, you will have a HELP debt.

Applying for the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)

Q: Do I need to accept my enrolment offer before I apply for a HELP loan?

Once you have received your enrolment offer, your approved

provider will either:

  • Include the relevant Request for Commonwealth assistance form (that you must return) in the same package as your other enrolment documentation; or
  • Direct you to complete the Request for Commonwealth assistance form online as part of its online enrolment process.

Q: Where do I get the Request for Commonwealth assistance form?

Q: How and when do I repay my HELP debt?

HELP repayment arrangements include compulsory repayments made through your income tax, and any voluntary repayments you choose to make. If you make a voluntary repayment of $500 or more you will receive a bonus on the repayment amount.

Q: How does the voluntary bonus repayment work? If you make a voluntary repayment of $500 or more, you will receive a bonus of 5 per cent. This means your account will be credited with an additional 5 per cent of the value of your payment. The bonus is 5 per cent of the payment amount, not 5 per cent of the total debt.

Either process will allow you to accept your offer of enrolment and apply for a HELP loan (if eligible - see HELP Paying my Fees for further information).

You should contact your provider directly if you are unsure of which option applies to you.

Eligibility for the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)

Q: Can I get a HELP loan for two courses at the same time?

Q: Can I get a HELP loan if I’m studying part-time?

Yes. As long as you meet the eligibility criteria and are studying at an approved provider, your mode of study (part-time or full-time) will not affect your eligibility to access a HELP loan.

Q: Does my income/financial situation affect my eligibility?

No. HELP loans are not means tested, so neither your income, nor the income of your partner or family will affect your eligibility to access a HELP loan.

Q: I already have a HECS-HELP debt, can I get another loan?

An existing HELP debt under any of the schemes will not affect your eligibility to access another HELP loan. The exception to this is FEE-HELP and VET FEE-HELP. If you are accessing FEE-HELP and want to also access VET FEE-HELP (or vice versa), you will need to ensure you have enough of your FEE-HELP balance left to cover the tuition fees for your course.

Q: I'm a permanent resident/New Zealand citizen. Can I get a HELP loan?

While some permanent residents and New Zealand citizens may have used HECS in the past, the higher education policy was reformed in 2005 and part of the changes included the replacement of HECS with Commonwealth supported places and the introduction of the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). HELP replaced all previous Australian Government loans for tertiary study. As part of these changes, the eligibility criteria to access a HELP loan also changed.

Q: I'm a subsidised student, can I get VET FEE-HELP? Do I

Q: Which HELP loan am I eligible for?

Q: Which qualifications are eligible for VET FEE-HELP?

VET FEE-HELP is available for courses at approved providers at the level of: Diploma; Advanced Diploma; Graduate Certificate; Graduate Diploma. The Government has just implemented a trial to extend VET FEE-HELP loans to selected Certificate IV qualifications at selected approved providers.

pay a loan fee?

Students subsidised by the Victorian, South Australian, Queensland, Western Australian and Northern Territory Governments who are enrolled in Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses at an approved VET FEE-HELP provider, can access a loan. State and territory government subsidised students are not charged a loan fee.


Q: Can I get Centrelink benefits if I am using a HELP loan?

Q: How do I know if I'm a subsidised student (for VET students)?

Q: What is a census date and how is it different to an

Q: What is a CHESSN?

administrative date?

The census date is the last day you can submit your Request for Commonwealth assistance form for a Commonwealth supported place or a HELP loan, or withdraw from your study without incurring the tuition fee or HELP loan for that unit. The administrative date is a date (occurs before the census date) by which your provider wants you to submit your form. If you miss the administrative date you can still submit your form, but you may incur a late fee. Not all approved providers set an administrative date. Census and administrative dates have to be published on your provider’s website

You will be allocated a Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN) if you use Commonwealth assistance (e.g. scholarship, Commonwealth supported place, HELP loan etc.). It is a unique identifier that will remain with you and it is allocated to you by your Tertiary Admissions Centre or by your approved provider when you apply for admission to a course. It helps approved providers and the Australian Government to provide information to you about the Commonwealth assistance you have used. You will be notified of your CHESSN in your Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN). If you have any questions or need any help with your CHESSN, please contact the student administration area at your approved provider.

HELP loans

Q: It’s tax time! How much is my HELP debt?

Q: Can I receive assistance under the Endeavour student mobility grants or New Colombo Plan and an OS-HELP loan for the same overseas study experience?

Q: I am a higher degree research student. Will I be able to receive OS-HELP assistance under the new arrangements?

No. You must be enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place (a subsidised higher education place) to receive OS-HELP assistance. Higher degree research students are enrolled in fee-paying places (non-subsidised places).


2016–17 repayment income thresholds and rates for HELP, SSL, ABSTUDY SSL and TSL
Repayment income (RI*)Repayment rate
Below $54,869Nil
$54,869 – $61,1194.0%
$61,120 – $67,3684.5%
$67,369 – $70,9095.0%
$70,910 – $76,2225.5%
$76,223 – $82,5506.0%
$82,551 – $86,8946.5%
$86,895 – $95,6267.0%
$95,627 – $101,8997.5%
$101,900 and above8.0%


Q: How much will my repayments be?

The amount you repay each year is a percentage of your repayment income. The percentage increases as your income increases, so the more you earn, the higher your repayment will be. The ATO will calculate your compulsory repayment for the year and include it on your income tax notice of assessment.