The government offers a range of Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) schemes to support Australian students who are pursuing higher education.
Applying for a HELP loan to defer your tuition fees is a great way to cover the upfront costs of a university course. Here's what prospective students need to know about the available HELP schemes, including eligibility and how to apply.
What are the government-supported schemes?
- HECS-HELP – To help Commonwealth-supported students cover their student contribution.
- FEE-HELP – To help full fee-paying students cover their fees.
- SA-HELP – To pay for student services and amenities.
- OS-HELP – For Commonwealth-supported students studying overseas.
What is FEE-HELP?
Provided by the Australian Government, FEE-HELP is a loan scheme for eligible higher education students to pay for part or all of their tuition fees.
How does FEE-HELP work?
FEE=HELP loans can only be used to pay for tuition fees. You cannot use a FEE-HELP loan to cover other costs associated with studying such as accommodation, textbooks or laptops.
For most courses in 2023, the highest amount you can borrow under any HELP loan scheme is $113,028. If you have previously used a HELP scheme to pay for previous study, such as an undergraduate degree, check your available balance to see if you can take out another loan.
You will start paying back your HELP loan through the taxation system when you’re earning above the compulsory repayment threshold. For the 2022-23 income year, the threshold is $48,361. The more income you earn, the higher your repayment will be. You can make voluntary repayments at any time to reduce the balance of your HELP loan in addition to your compulsory repayments.
Who is eligible for FEE-HELP?
You must meet the citizenship and residency requirements to get FEE-HELP. This means you must either be:
- An Australian citizen completing at least one unit of your course in Australia.
- A New Zealand SVC holder who meets the long-term residency requirements and resides in Australia for the duration of your study.
- A permanent visa holder undertaking bridging study for overseas-trained professionals who reside in Australia for the duration of your study.
- A permanent humanitarian visa holder or eligible former permanent humanitarian visa holder who resides in Australia for the duration of your study.
You must also:
- Meet the TFN (tax file number) requirements.
- Have available HELP balance.
- Be correctly enrolled in your course before the census date.
How to apply for a FEE-HELP loan
Your university provider will give you instructions to submit your eCAF (electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form) for a FEE-HELP loan before the census date. You will submit the eCAF directly to your university and give them details including your TFN, Unique Student Identifier (USI), name, date of birth and address. The details you provide on your application must match the information available to the ATO and USI Registry System so your loan can be approved.
What is the difference between FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP?
FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP can both be accessed by students to defer tuition fees. Which loan you are eligible for depends on your chosen university and course. FEE-HELP loans are available for courses where you have a domestic fee paying place (DFP) whereas you can get a HECS-HELP loan if you are enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place (CSP). The main difference is that FEE-HELP loans are mostly relevant for postgraduate students. They are not subsidised by the government and tuition fees are set by universities. HECS-HELP loans are subsidised by the government so students, usually undergraduates, pay a student contribution for the units completed.
Course prices for 2023
Ready to start a postgraduate degree in 2023? Find a course that interests you and speak to a Student Enrollment Advisor to find out more.
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