The Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) is a programme run by the Commonwealth Government to support Australian citizens undertake university study. The scheme is only available to students who are offered a Commonwealth Supported Place at university and who meet strict visa and citizenship requirements. The HECS scheme operates as a loan from the Commonwealth government to pay for the cost of a student's course.
Under the scheme a student can defer paying for the cost of their education until their income reaches a minimum amount and repayments are extracted by the Commonwealth government through the tax system. There are no loan fees or interest charged on HECS-HELP loans but all loans are indexed each year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
The HECS scheme is only available to students who are offered a Commonwealth Supported Place at university. A persons eligibility for a HECS- HELP loan is not affected by any existing HECS-HELP debt nor is it income, means or assets tested. The scheme is only available to Australian citizens and holders of an Australian permanent humanitarian visa. New Zealand citizens and holders of other Australian permanent resident visas are ineligible for the scheme.
A HECS-HELP debt is recorded against a students Tax File Number (TFN) and repayments are made through the tax system when their income is above the minimum threshold set by the Commonwealth government. Students can also choose to make repayments upfront to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) at any time and receive a 20% discount on the amount paid if it is over $500.00.
FEE HELP is a loan from the Commonwealth government up to $50,000 to cover the full or part amount of a student's tuition fees. FEE HELP loans are subject to a 20% loan fee and repayments are based on income through the taxation system. Repayments are made when a student’s income reaches the minimum threshold level set by the Commonwealth government. FEE HELP is only available to Australian citizens and holders of an Australian resident humanitarian visa. New Zealand citizens and holders of other Australian permanent resident visas are ineligible to apply.