Reduction of Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debts for teachers in very remote areas

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Types of assistance and general eligibility criteria

There are two types of assistance under this initiative, waivers on indexation on accumulated HELP debt indexation and reduction of accumulated HELP debt.

Both types of assistance are available to teachers who are/were teaching in a very remote area of Australia, based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Remoteness Structure, at any of the following:

  • a school providing primary or secondary education
  • a centre based day care service or
  • a preschool

To be eligible for either type of assistance, teachers must be normally resident in a very remote area during the period applied for (or temporarily located in a very remote area if temporarily employed). Teachers must also have already completed their initial teacher education qualification for their eligibility to commence and have a HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP debt in relation to that qualification.

The term initial teacher education qualification refers to the first teacher education qualification obtained that satisfies the minimum academic requirements for registration as a teacher by an authority of a state or territory.

Waiving indexation on accumulated HELP debt

Application forms are now available for indexation waivers on your accumulated HELP debt. Applicants must provide supporting documentation as listed in Part D of the Application form, which must confirm:

  • accumulated HELP debt, qualification attainment, residency in a very remote area, current employment details and period with employer.

Acceptable documentation may include but is not limited to the following, for example, copies of:

  • HELP debt statement showing applicant’s name and TFN (which can be accessed on the ATO portal through the applicant’s MyGov account);
  • teaching qualification;
  • employment contract(s) or other employment documentation (e.g. payslips) that supports the period applying for; and
  • utility bills or rental agreement showing applicant’s name and address in (the same) very remote area of the school that the applicant’s is teaching.

The application form can be accessed online:

You may be eligible to apply if you are/were a teacher in a very remote area of Australia (based on the ABS Remoteness Structure) area on/after 14 February 2019. If your application is successful, your accumulated HELP debt indexation will be waived for your approved period for as long as you remain eligible.

Once you are no longer teaching in a very remote area, indexation on any remaining HELP debt will recommence.

Reduction of accumulated HELP debt

Applications for reduction of accumulated HELP debts will be available from 2023.

To be eligible for reduction of accumulated HELP debts, teachers must complete four years of teaching full time or the pro-rated part time equivalent in a six-year period, at a very remote school/s (or centre based day care services or preschool), commencing on or after the start of the 2019 school year.

The debt to be reduced is limited to the HELP debt outstanding at the commencement of the teaching position when you become eligible, and to a maximum of five years of initial teacher education qualification related tuition costs. The department will work with you and the ATO to calculate this amount.

Lists of schools or centre based day care services in very remote areas of Australia

The list of centre based day care services operating in very remote areas:

The list of eligible preschools in New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia:

The list of eligible primary and secondary schools:

Please refer to the Very remote schools list for preschools located in eligible locations in Western Australia and Tasmania.

Contact us

Email: veryremotehelp@dese.gov.au

More information about reduction of accumulated HELP debt and waiver of indexation assistance can be found on the Frequently asked questions page.