HECS-HELP Questions Answered
What is HECS-HELP?
HECS-HELP is a loan scheme for eligible students enrolled in Commonwealth supported places to pay their student contribution amounts. It cannot be used for additional study costs such as accommodation or text books.
When Do I have to repay my HELP debt?
Once your repayment income is above the compulsory repayment threshold, you will start repaying your HELP debt through our tax system, even if you are still studying. The repayment threshold is adjusted each year. The compulsory repayment threshold for the 2017-2018 income year is $55,874.
Your repayment income is calculated from the amounts given on your tax return for :
- Your taxable income
- Reportable fringe benefits
- Total net investment loss including net rental loss
- Reportable super contributions
- Exempt foreign employment income amounts
How much will my repayments be?
The amount you repay each year is a percentage of your income. The percentage increases as your income increases, so the more you earn, the higher your repayment will be.
2017-2018 Repayment Rates
2017-2018 Repayment Threshold Repayment % Rate
Below $55,874 Nil
$62,239 – $68,602 4.5%
$68,603 – $72,207 5.0%
$72,208 – $77,618 5.5%
$77,619 – $84,062 6.0%
$84,063 – $88,486 6.5%
$88,487 – $97,377 7.0%
$97,378 – $10,3765 7.5%
$103,766 and above 8.0%
You may be able to lower the bracket in which you place by keeping all receipts for work-related expenses to claim on your tax return – therefore lowering the bracket in which you place.
For the 2017/2018 threshold rates visit ATO Hecs Repayment Thresholds and Rates
Can I pay off my debt sooner?
You can make a voluntary repayment to the ATO at any time and for any amount. Voluntary repayment are in addition to the compulsory repayments make through your tax return.
Note: The 5% voluntary repayment bonus ceased on 1 January 2017.
How do I make a voluntary repayment?
You can make a voluntary repayment by BPay or direct credit, credit card or by posting a cheque to the ATO. You will need your PRN to make the payment. You can contact the ATO on 13 28 61 for further information on how to make your voluntary payment or visit ATO voluntary repayments.
Do I have to pay HECS-HELP debt if I move overseas?
You are still required to pay your HECS-HELP debt should you move oversease if your income is above the minimum repayment threshold of $55874 (in 2017-2018).
As of 1 July 2017 you must update your contact details if you plan to reside oversease for 183 days or more in any 12 months. You must also lodge your worldwide income or a non-lodgement advice if your income is
- at or below $13717 for the 2016/17 income year, you will need to submit a non-lodgement advice.
- above $13717 and below $54869 for the 2016/17 income year, you will need to declare your worldwide income. An overseas levy would not be raised, as you are below the minimum repayment threshold
- above $54869 for the 2016/17 income year, you will need to submit your worldwide income. You will have to pay an oversease levy as your worldwide income exceeds the minimum repayment threshold
Can my HECS-HELP debt be cancelled?
If you were unsuccessful in completing the requirements of a unit of study, or you chose to withdraw from a unit after the census date due to serious illness or other ‘special circumstances’, you may apply to have your HELP debt cancelled. This must be done via your provider, who will assess your application against the requirements of HESA. For further information on how to apply for ‘special circumstances,’ see your provider’s student administration area.
Need more information?
Contact the ATO on 13 28 61 or visit the ATO website. The ATO will ask you for your tax file number before they disclose any personal information to you.