Successive Australian governments have encouraged schemes that provide the opportunity for higher education for all, regardless of individual financial limitations. These initiatives are highly acclaimed by educationalists around the world, especially those residing in countries where equal study opportunities are not prevalent. The HECS-HELP system has strong support in Australia, although detractors cite the huge burden on the taxpayer in maintaining the system. So, what is HECS-HELP, and how exactly does it work?
HECS-HELP functions in two distinct ways. Firstly, it’s a loan for paying student contributions, with loan repayments commencing once the student enters the workforce and is earning above the minimum threshold requirement. Secondly, a HECS-HELP payment incentive assists students who pay fees upfront by offering a 10% fees discount, ultimately resulting in lower tuition costs.
Who is eligible for HECS-HELP?
Almost all university courses in Australia are undertaken in a Commonwealth supported place that offers HECS-HELP. The scheme is also available in some education institutions that provide in-demand certifications, such as those in nursing and teaching. Eligibility requirements for HECS-HELP include:
- Australian citizenship, humanitarian visa holder, or fulfilment of other residency requirements.
- Study to be undertaken at a Commonwealth supported place.
- Enrolment at a supported place by the census date for every unit of study requiring a HECS-HELP loan or discount.
- Thorough understanding of HECS-HELP obligations, and submission of the request to your education provider by the census date.
Is HECS-HELP available for the full cost of study?
Yes. The HECS-HELP scheme is of particular value to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who would otherwise be unable to afford university tuition. The value of HECS-HELP has been borne out time and again as Australians from challenging backgrounds, including those from remote communities, have risen well beyond expectations to become leaders in their chosen fields.
The entire HECS-HELP amount can be borrowed upfront, with loan repayments commencing once the repayment minimum wage threshold has been reached.
Are there additional costs for HECS-HELP?
There is no interest charged on your HECS-HELP loan. However, The Australian Taxation Office applies an indexation adjustment on a yearly basis that will keep your debt in line with the current Consumer Price Index. Factors such as average Australian wages and inflation are taken into consideration.
The indexation takes place on 1 June each year, affecting any portion of your HECS-HELP loan that has not been paid during the preceding 11 months.
Can I pay some fees up-front and use HECS-HELP for the rest?
Every student’s financial situation is different. Some are able to pay everything upfront, utilising the HECS-HELP scheme for a 10% discount. Others require the full backing of HECS-HELP. Many students also prefer to pay some fees upfront and some at a later date, thereby incurring lower future loan repayments. The 10% discount eligibility is offered to any student who makes a partial upfront contribution of $500 or more toward their study unit of choice.
What residency requirements do I need for HECS-HELP?
HECS-HELP is designed to assist students studying in Australia who meet citizenship or residency requirements. Citizens from other countries, including permanent visa holders (except humanitarian visa holders) are not eligible for HECS-HELP.
HECS-HELP is available for students undertaking as little as one unit of study in a Commonwealth supported place, although students studying with an Australian tertiary institution via distance education while residing overseas don’t meet the residency requirements for HECS-HELP.
HECS-HELP has proven incredibly popular with students all around Australia. However, there are also other study initiatives available to suit individual circumstances. For more information about HECS-HELP, or associated Australian Government tertiary study arrangements, visit the Study Assist FAQ page.