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Higher Education Loan Program

The Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) was introduced in 2005 to replace the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS).

If the Commonwealth Government lends you money under any of the HELP schemes, you have to start making compulsory repayments through the tax system when your repayment income goes above the minimum threshold. For information on the current thresholds, click here.

The schemes that fall under the HELP umbrella include:

  • VET FEE-HELP– a loan to cover all or part of the fees payable by eligible students undertaking vocational education and training (VET) with an approved VET provider.
  • HECS-HELP– a loan to cover part or all of the fees required to be paid by eligible students enrolled in Commonwealth supported places.
  • OS-HELP– a cash loan to help with expenses including travel and accommodation for eligible Commonwealth supported students who go overseas to study.
  • FEE-HELP –a loan to cover all or part of the education fees payable by eligible students enrolled at an approved higher education provider or Open Universities Australia.
  • SA-HELP– a loan to cover services and amenities fees for eligible students enrolled in a course of study with a higher education provider.

When do repayments kick in?

Compulsory payments are made through your tax return once your repayment income goes over the minimum threshold, which is adjusted each year – even if you are still studying. You can also make voluntary payments in addition to this.

What is your ‘repayment income’?

Your repayment income will be calculated based on amounts including your taxable income, reportable super contributions, reportable fringe benefits and exempt foreign income.

For example, if for 2014-15 Sally had a taxable income of $50,420 and in her tax return she declared fringe benefits of $4,560, net investment loss of $ 1250, exempt foreign employment income of $ 2580 and reportable super contributions of $15,000, her repayment income would be $73,810 ($50,420 + $4560+ $1,250+$ 2580 + $15,000).

Are you planning to travel or live overseas?

As of the 1st of January 2016, you will still have to make repayments to Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) or Trade Support Loan (TSL) debt, if you live overseas for a total of six months within a twelve-month period. For those who fall within this category, repayment obligations will be the same as for those who live in Australia.

You will need to update your contact details using our online services via myGov. You will also be required to make compulsory repayments towards your debt from 1 July 2017.

For more information on Etax, Mytax and online tax return, please contact us at 1300 698 297 or you can email us at


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