33. SA-HELP

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33.1 - What is SA-HELP?

SA-HELP provides eligible students with a loan to cover a student services and amenities fee imposed on them by their providers. A provider who chooses to charge a student services and amenities fee must set a date by which the fee is payable. The day immediately after this date is when a student using SA-HELP will incur a debt for deferring the fee [HESA subsection 137-16(3)].

Students who wish to obtain SA-HELP for all or part of a student services and amenities fee imposed on them by their provider, must meet the TFN requirements and other eligibility requirements on or before the day on which the fee is payable.

Students applying for SA-HELP will not need to provide a USI until 1 January 2023.

33.2 - SA-HELP eligibility

To be eligible for SA-HELP for a student services and amenities fee, the student must:

  • be either an Australian citizen or a New Zealand Special Category Visa (NZ SCV) holder who meets certain arrival and long-term residency requirements [Appendix F]; or a permanent humanitarian visa holder who will be resident in Australia [part 28.3] [HESA paragraph 126-1(1)(a) and section 126-5](see Appendix C)
  • be enrolled in a course of study or a bridging course for overseas-trained professionals on the day on which the fee is payable [HESA paragraph 126-1(b)]
  • meet the TFN requirements [part 34] [HESA paragraph 126-1(c) and section 187-1]
  • have completed, signed and given to an appropriate officer of the provider a CAF on or before the fee is payable [HESA paragraph 126-1(d)]; and
  • If the day in which the fee is payable is on or after 1 January 2023, provide their USI to their provider [HESA paragraph 126-1(1)(e)]

A student will not satisfy the citizenship or residency requirements if the provider reasonably expects the student will not undertake in Australia any units of study with the provider [HESA subsection 126-5(2)].

New Zealand citizenship

From 1 January 2016, certain New Zealand Special Category Visa (SCV) holders have been eligible for HELP loans. New Zealand SCV holders will be eligible for a HELP loan if they:

  • hold a current SCV under the Migration Act 1958
  • first began to be usually resident in Australia, as a dependent child aged under 18 years, at least 10 years before a previous request for Commonwealth assistance in relation to the course they are enrolled in or their current request for SA-HELP assistance
  • have been physically present in Australia for at least eight out of the past 10 years, and 18 months out of the past two years; and
  • meet the other eligibility criteria for a SA-HELP loan under HESA

For further information [Appendix F].

33.3 - SA-HELP for cross-institutional enrolments

To be eligible for SA-HELP a student must be enrolled in a course of study or a bridging course for overseas-trained professionals at the provider at which the fee is being imposed.

Students who are enrolled cross-institutionally – that is, they are enrolled in a course of study at their home provider but are undertaking a unit or a set of units at a host provider – will only be eligible for SA-HELP at the home provider. This applies even if the units of study they are undertaking at the host provider form part of the course of study they are undertaking at the home provider.

33.4 - Amount of SA-HELP

The amount of a student’s SA-HELP loan is equal to the unpaid portion of the student services and amenities fee (that is, the difference between the fee and the sum of any payments of the fee (other than a payment of SA-HELP assistance) made on or before the day on which the fee is payable [HESA section 127-1].

33.5 - Paying SA-HELP

The Commonwealth will lend the student the amount of SA-HELP assistance they are entitled to and pay the provider the amount lent in discharge of the student’s fee liability [HESA section 128-1].

33.6 - SA-HELP and the CAN

Providers must issue each student who has requested SA-HELP with a CAN [part 10]. The notice must be given to the student by the later of:

  • 28 days after the date the SA-HELP debt was incurred; and
  • the date on which the provider must give the person a CAN, if any, in relation to units of study that are Commonwealth supported assistance,. [Administration Guidelines chapter 4]

33.7 - Incurring SA-HELP

A student is taken to incur their SA-HELP debt immediately after the day the student amenities fee is payable to the provider [HESA subsection 137-16(3)].

33.8 - Remitting SA-HELP

A SA-HELP debt can only be remitted in limited circumstances.

These circumstances arise when:

  • a provider imposes a student services and amenities fee on a person
  • the provider receives notice that the person does not have a tax file number; and 
  • at the end of 28 days after receiving this notice, the provider has not received a tax file number that it is satisfied is valid; and
  • the person is eligible for SA-HELP

If the above circumstances arise the provider must repay to the Commonwealth any amount paid to the provider to discharge the person’s liability to pay the fee. [HESA sections 128-5 and 193-15].

33.9 - Repaying SA-HELP

A person’s SA-HELP debt is part of their accumulated HELP debt recorded through the ATO. People repay their accumulated HELP debt through the taxation system once their repayment income is above the minimum repayment threshold for compulsory repayments [part 34].