HECS-HELP is a loan scheme provided by the Australian government to assist higher education students with a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) to meet the tuition costs of their studies. The HECS-HELP Commonwealth Assistance Form (CAF) is a legal document whereby you accept and agree to the conditions of your CSP.
Through HECS-HELP, the Australian Government pays the amount of the loan direct to ANU. Students repay their loans through the Australian taxation system once their income is above the minimum repayment threshold for compulsory repayment. Voluntary repayments may be made at any time regardless of income.
There is no loan fee for HECS-HELP loans.
Each course at ANU has an associated fee. If you hold a CSP then the Australian Government pays a portion of the fee. The remaining fee is called the 'student contribution' and is the amount you are required to pay.
Students who meet the eligiblity requirements to defer their fees may choose to pay all or part of their student contribution up-front. Any amount of student contribution that remains unpaid at the relevant course census date will then be deferred to HECS-HELP.
From 1 January 2021, new higher education students will need a Unique Student Identifier (USI) in order to be eligible for a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) or Commonwealth financial assistance HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP and OS-HELP. For more information, please visit - Unique Student Identifier.
Frequently asked questions about HECS-HELP
Who is eligible to defer their fees to HECS-HELP?
Australian citizens, some permanent humanitarian visa holders and eligible New Zealand citizens who are enrolled in an award program (eg bachelor degrees and other undergraduate awards) are eligible to use HECS-HELP to defer their fees, providing they successfully complete the HECS-HELP Commonwealth Assistance Form on or before the census date of their first course in their current session/semester and provide their Tax File Number.
Undergraduate students enrolled at ANU on a cross-institutional basis may use HECS-HELP as long as they provide written advice from their home institution confirming that the course will be counted towards their program of study at their home institution and that they hold a Commonwealth supported place.
I am not eligible/going to defer my fees, why do I have to complete a HECS-HELP Commonwealth Assistance Form?
The Commonwealth Assistance Form (CAF) is a legal document whereby you accept and agree to the conditions of your Commonwealth supported place.
Students enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place must submit a completed Commonwealth Assistance Form by the first census date on or before the census date of their first course in their current session/semester.
If you do not successfully submit your CAF by the census date, you will no longer be eligible for Commonwealth support and your enrolment will be cancelled.
What does signing the Request for HECS-HELP Commonwealth Assistance Form mean?
When you sign your request form, you are:
- confirming that you have read the HECS-HELP information booklet provided by Study Assist and the form and are aware of your obligations under HECS-HELP
- requesting the Australian government to lend you the amount of your student contribution amount outstanding at the census date for each course of study covered by the form and to use this amount to pay the outstanding amount of your tuition fee to ANU on your behalf
- agreeing to begin repaying the loan to the Australian Government, through the taxation system, when your income for an income year is above the minimum repayment threshold for compulsory repayment.
How much can I borrow?
From 1 January 2023, the HELP limit is $113,028. If a student is undertaking a medicine, dentistry, or veterinary science course, the HELP limit is $162,336.
From 1 January 2020, the Australian Government introduced the combined HELP loan limit which is a cap on what you can borrow to cover the costs of your tuition fees for your Undergraduate and Postgraduate degrees.
- Any HECS-HELP debt prior to 1 January 2020 will not be included in the combined HELP loan limit.
- Any previous FEE-HELP debt will be included in the combined HELP loan limit.
Eligible students may borrow up to the HELP limit to pay tuition fees over their lifetime.
As a person uses HELP to pay tuition fees, the amount they may borrow in the future is reduced. Once a person has borrowed an amount equal to the HELP limit (the indexed amount at that time), they will not be able to receive HELP to pay tuition fees.
What if I only want HECS-HELP for some courses of study?
You may choose to pay part of your student contribution up-front and borrow the remainder through HECS-HELP. To do this you must apply for HECS-HELP assistance then simply pay the desired portion of student contribution using one of the normal payment methods. Any remaining amount at the relevant course census date will automatically be deferred to the HECS-HELP loan as long as you have supplied your tax file number and have not reached the HELP limit.
Do I have to provide my tax file number?
Student who meet the eligibility requirements to defer their fees to HECS-HELP will be asked to provide your tax file number (TFN) when completing and submitting the HECS-HELP Commonwealth Assistance Form.
If you choose not to provide your TFN, you will not be entitled to defer your fees to HECS-HELP and will be required to pay your fees up front.
If you cannot quote your TFN when you enrol, you should either, obtain a TFN, or a "Certificate of Application" for a tax file number (TFN) from the Australian Taxation Office. Please be aware that it can take several weeks to obtain a TFN.
If you have applied for a TFN and have not received your TFN before Census date, please ensure you submit a copy of your "Certificate of Application" from the Australian Taxation Office and a copy of your Australia Post "Application Receipt" to Student Central on or before Census date. Information on how to apply for a TFN can be found on the Australian Taxation Office website.
Once you have been issued with your TFN, you will need to update your student record immediately.
ANU will use your TFN to provide advice to the Australian Taxation Office regarding the amount of your loan.
When is the closing date to complete a HECS-HELP Commonwealth Assistance Form?
You must submit your HECS-HELP Commonwealth Assistance Form (CAF) online through ISIS on or before the census date of your first course in their current session/semester.
Eligible students fees will be deferred shortly after the census date has passed.
If you do not successfully submit your HECS-HELP CAF by the relevant census date, you will no longer be eligible for Commonwealth support and your enrolment will be cancelled. Census date deadlines cannot be extended.
What if I change my program of study?
You will need to submit a new HECS-HELP Commonwealth Assistance Form if you transfer from one program to another.
How can I check if the calculation of my HECS-HELP debt is correct?
Within 28 days after the census date for the relevant course or courses, ANU will provide you with a electronic Commonwealth Assistance Notice (eCAN) for that course. Your eCAN will be available on ISIS by selecting 'account details' from the menu and then selecting 'eCAN'. This is your electronic Commonwealth Assistance Notice which provides you with information on your HECS-HELP debt for that course. The notice may cover more than one course.
Your notice will enable you to check if the calculation of your HECS-HELP debt for the courses covered by the notice is correct.
If you believe the eCAN is incorrect, you should submit a written request to Student Central within 14 days of the date of your eCAN asking for the eCAN to be corrected. You should identify the matters in the eCAN that you believe are not correct and specify why you believe they are incorrect.
How can I find out my HECS-HELP balance?
Students are able to access the myHELPbalance link for a summary of their personal details regarding Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) assistance. This can be access through the Study Assist website or by going driectly to the myHELPbalance wepbapge. Using their Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN), Unique Student Identifier (USI) and other personal identifying data, students can view their HELP usage as reported to the Department of Education by ANU and other institutions. However this may not show your most recent courses taken so please check your eCAN.
What happens if I drop a course after census or fail a course?
If you drop a course after the census date has passed or fail a course, you still remain liable for the debt associated with that course/s. It does not matter whether or not you attended any classes.
How do I apply to have my HECS-HELP debt removed in special circumstances?
If you have successfully completed a course, you are not eligible to apply to have your HECS-HELP debt removed for that course.
To apply for a remission of HECS-HELP debt in special circumstances, you must apply for a late withdrawal. You must make your application for late withdrawal to ANU within twelve months after your withdrawal date.
Late Withdrawals may be granted to students who encounter unavoidable and unexpected extenuating circumstances that impede their successful completion of a course where the circumstances occur or are exacerbated after the census date. Each application will be examined and determined on its merits.
What is a renewable HELP balance?
The renewable HELP balance is your available borrowing capacity for HECS-HELP, FEE HELP, VET FEE HELP and VET Student Loans. It will be your available HELP balance. Any repayments you make on your HELP debt will credit your available HELP balance, up to your applicable HELP loan limit.
Any voluntary repayments you make will credit your HELP balance when the ATO tells the department about your repayments.
Any compulsory repayments will credit your HELP balance once:
- you have completed your tax return,
- have been issued a notice of assessment, and
- the ATO notifies the department of any repayments you made on your HELP debt.
Your fortnightly PAYG repayments will not credit your HELP balance until you complete your tax return and it is processed by the ATO.
Repayments starting from the 2019-20 income year will credit your available HELP balance.
When the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) checks your tax return and issues you with a notice of assessment, they will inform the department of any repayments you made on your HELP debt.
These repayments will credit your HELP balance (therefore increasing it).
When do I start repaying my debt and how much will my repayments be?
You start repaying your accumulated HELP debt when your repayment income is above the minimum repayment threshold for compulsory repayment. The repayment thresholds are adjusted each year to reflect any changes in average weekly earnings.
When your repayment income is above the minimum repayment threshold for any particular year, the Australian Taxation Office will calculate your compulsory repayment for that year and include it on your income tax notice of assessment.
Your compulsory repayment increases as your repayment income increases. The more you earn the higher your repayment. Your compulsory repayment is based on your income alone, not the income of your parents or spouse.
You must start repaying your debt when your repayment income is above the minimum repayment threshold, even if you are still studying.