HECS-HELP helps uni students who can’t afford to pay their fees up front by allowing them to defer payment until they finish their degree and start to earn money.

There’s no interest charged on HECS-HELP loans and you don’t need to start repayments until your income is above the compulsory payment threshold. However, your debt is increased annually on 1 June in line with the cost of living increase as measured by the consumer price index (CPI).

When do I have to repay my HELP debt?

Once your income is above the compulsory payment threshold, you must start making repayments through the taxation system, even if you are still studying. This means you won’t receive any money with your tax return because it will be automatically deducted to pay off part of your loan.

The compulsory repayment threshold is adjusted yearly. This table shows the 2017-18 financial year repayment thresholds and rates:

2018-19 repayment threshold Repayment % rate
Below $51,957 Nil
$51,957 - $57,729 2.0%
$57,730 - $64,306 4.0%
$64,307 - $70,881 4.5%
$70,882 - $74,607 5.0%
$74,608 - $80,197 5.5%
$80,198 - $86,855 6.0%
$86,856 - $91,425 6.5%
$91,426 - $100,613 7.0%
$100,614 - $107.213 7.5%
$107,214 and above 8.0%

How do I see how much I owe?

All HELP debts are managed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and you can view your debt at the myGov website. Just create a myGov account linked to the ATO.

Alternatively, you can call the ATO on 13 28 61 to find out your balance. Make sure to have your tax file number on hand when you call because the ATO will ask you for it for security purposes.

Can I pay off my debt sooner?

If you want to pay off your debt sooner, you can make voluntary repayments. Unless you pay off the full amount, you will still need to make the compulsory repayments through the tax system if your income is above the compulsory repayment threshold.

When is the best time for voluntary repayments?

If you want to pay off your loan completely, it’s best to make the repayments before you lodge your tax return.

You may also want to make your repayment before indexation is applied on 1 June. Make sure you allow enough time for your payment to be processed before 1 June.

How to make a voluntary payment?

The ATO offers a variety of payment options. You can make a payment using BPAY, direct credit, credit card or by posting a cheque to the ATO. To make a payment you need to log in to your myGov account.

Government assistance for HECS-HELP debt

If you are an eligible education, nursing or midwifery graduate, you could be eligible for government assistance which helps you reduce your compulsory HECS-HELP debt repayments.

You are eligible if you:

  • graduated from an eligible education course or an eligible nursing/midwifery course after 30 June 2009
  • were a Commonwealth-supported student for some or all of that course
  • had a HECS-HELP debt at course completion for that course 
  • still have a HELP debt to repay in the income year for which you are applying
  • are required to make a compulsory HELP debt repayment for the income year of your application
  • were employed as a teacher or a nurse/midwife for at least one week in the income year for which you are applying.

Find out more on eligible courses

How much of this benefit can you get?

Your entitlement depends on a combination of how much debt you have when you’ve completed your course and the number of weeks you have worked in an eligible occupation.

The maximum you can receive as a graduate is $1,825.46 for the 2016-17 income year.

The 2016-17 financial year is the last for which someone can claim the HECS-HELP benefit. However, you still have two years after that to lodge your application. Please make sure you apply in time as late applications won’t be accepted.

Income year for which a person is claiming the HECS-HELP Benefit Applications to be lodged with the ATO
2016-17 income year by 30 June 2019