The Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) has 5 different loan schemes that provide financial support to students. In 2020. changes provide extra support for students in regional and remote areas.
Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)
HELP loan limits
For 2020, the HELP loan limits are:
- $106,319 for most students
- $152,700 for students studying:
- Medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses leading to initial registration
- Eligible aviation courses
For units of study from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2021 inclusive, undergraduate FEE-HELP assisted students will be exempt from loan fees. This is to encourage students to commence or continue study during the COVID 19 pandemic.
From 1 July 2021, FEE-HELP loan fees for undergraduate fee-paying places at higher education providers will be reduced to 20 per cent (from 25 per cent). The reduction of the loan fee reduces the financial burden on students and continues to support the sustainability of the HELP scheme.
These changes apply to units of study with a census date on or after 1 July 2021.
Key statistics on HELP are collected and published regularly. The most recent publication looks at statistics relating to HELP debts and repayments.
In October 2020 legislation for the Job-ready Graduates Package (the package) of reforms to higher education was passed. Changes in this package:
- Affect student contributions
- Provide more opportunities for regional students, including:
- The new Tertiary Access Payment
- Guaranteed Commonwealth supported places for Indigenous students
Most of these changes will begin on 1 January 2021.
Current and new students who will be studying from 1 January 2021 should talk to their current or intended higher education provider to confirm how these changes may affect their individual circumstances.
Information for students
Many aspects of tertiary education are different to studying at high school and students need to understand the:
- Financial support and services available
- Requirements that must fulfilled before starting
More information about the types of support and services available can be found at Study Assist.
There are a range of means-tested student payments available to support eligible students who want to undertake approved study or an Australian Apprenticeship.
Government loans for students
Government loans for students provide financial assistance to help students with the cost of their tuition. The right loan will depend on the student's:
- Choice of where they want to study
Course Seeker is a national course comparison tool, where students can:
- Search over 8,000 courses
- Compare up to four higher education courses at once
- Filter by:
- Mode of study
- Study area
ComparED brings together data about student’s experiences and graduate job outcomes. This can help people make informed choices about their higher education study options. You can:
- View over 100 higher education institutions
- Compare up to 6 different institutions and/or study areas, focusing on:
- Student experiences
- Skill development
- Teaching practices
- Employment outcomes
- Student support services
Information for providers
FEE-HELP is for eligible fee-paying students enrolled in an accredited higher education course, such as undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. It pays all or part of their tuition fees. Providers who meet this criteria can apply to become approved to offer FEE-HELP to eligible students.
Approved higher education providers can find more information about:
- Schedule and estimates
- Provider withdrawal processes
- Funding clusters and indexed rates
- Statistics and data reporting
- Ongoing financial requirements
- Accessing the HELP IT System (HITS)
For new information about HELP and any changes to the program, keep up to date with the HELP Noticeboard.
HELP charging measures
In line with the Australian Government Charging Framework, the Government introduced two HELP Charging Measures in the 2019-20 Federal Budget. These allow for higher education providers who use Commonwealth funding to contribute to the maintenance and operation of HELP arrangements.
The HELP Charging Measures ensure consistency and fairness across the higher education sector.
The charges commenced on 1 January 2020.
HELP Resources for providers include:
- HITS user guides
- Administrative documents
Tuition Protection and Provider Default
Tuition protection provides protections and assistance to support students if their education provider defaults by:
- Stopping delivery of their course
- Closing entirely
The Tuition Protection Service (TPS) provides tuition protection assistance for eligible students whose private provider has closed or ceased delivering a course. This includes:
- International students
- VSL students
- Domestic students who pay full upfront fees
- Domestic students who access one of these loans:
- VET Student Loan
From 1 January 2020, the Australian Government expanded the successful Tuition Protection Service (TPS) for international students to include similar protections for domestic students accessing a FEE‑HELP or HECS‑HELP loan at a private education provider.
All non-exempt FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP providers have been required to participate in the Tuition Protection arrangements.
Furthermore, the Australian Government has recently passed legislation to expand the TPS to also cover domestic higher education students who pay their tuition fully upfront. These arrangements commence from 1 January 2021.
The Tuition Protection arrangements:
- Impose obligations and requirements on providers
- Provide support and protections for students if their private education provider defaults
The new tuition protection arrangements are sector-funded and underpinned by a sustainable provider levy framework. The levy framework:
- Will cover the long-term costs of tuition protection
- Requires all non-exempt FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP providers to contribute annual levies commensurate with their size and risk.
The levy framework will also apply to all Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) approved higher education providers from 1 January 2021.
In the event of a provider default, there are 2 ways eligible students will be helped:
- Support to continue their studies in an equivalent or similar course
- Receive a loan re-credit for open units of study
Some providers are exempt from tuition protection requirements. These include:
- Table A Universities
- TAFEs and other Government-owned providers
Obligations relating to providing information about replacement courses and obligations of replacement providers are not exempt. These providers are required to provide tuition protection support and assistance for students in the event they default.
Higher education providers' obligations continue when they act as replacement providers for students displaced under the Interim Tuition Assurance arrangements.
The 2020 HELP Tuition Protection levy will be waived and the Australian Government will contribute an additional $3.6 million in seed funding in 2020 in lieu of the levy collection. This will be repaid over time.
For more information, read the Higher Education Administrative Information for Providers - March 2020 – Courses of Study.
Remission of HELP debts, and indexation waivers, for teachers in very remote areas of Australia
A qualified teacher may be eligible to have their outstanding HELP debt remitted if they:
- Relocate to a very remote area of Australia on or after the start of the 2019 school year; and
- Remain in teaching for at least 4 out of 6 years; and
- Teach at a:
- School providing primary or secondary education; or
- Centre based day care service; or
Service prior to the start of the 2019 school year will not count towards the four‑year requirement.
Teachers working in a very remote area of Australia are also eligible to have indexation on their outstanding HELP debt waived while they remain teaching in that area. This is available for eligible teachers from 14 February 2019.
Once teachers are no longer teaching in a very remote area, indexation on any remaining HELP debt will recommence.
For more information:
More information includes: