HECS is short for Higher Education Contribution Scheme, which is a loan a university student can get from the government if you are enrolled in a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP). The loan can be used to pay your tuition fees, but not accommodation, laptops or textbooks.
Not everyone is eligible for the HECS-HELP loan. To be eligible you must:
- Be enrolled in a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP)
- Be an Australian citizen or a New Zealand Special Category Visa (SCV)
- Submit the Request for Commonwealth Support and HECS-HELP form to your university before the census date
- Be enrolled in each of the units before census date*.
- Not have exceeded your HELP loan limit.
There is a limit to the amount of combined HELP loans that you can borrow, including FEE-HELP & HECS-HELP. For 2020, the HELP loan limit is $106,319. For those studying medicine, dentistry or veterinary science, or eligible aviation courses the HELP loan limit is $152,700.
Your HELP balance is renewable. You can check your balance on myHELPbalance by using your Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN), a unique identifying number.
To apply for HECS-HELP you will need a tax file number (TFN) and complete and submit a Request for Commonwealth Support and HECS-HELP, which your university will provide, before the census date*.
You will need to repay your debt to the government with interest when you start working and earn above a certain threshold. This is done through the tax system. The compulsory repayment threshold is different each year. For the 2020-21 income year, the threshold is $46,620. The more you earn, the higher the repayments will be as well (but you will need to worry about this when you start working😉).
Make sure to contact your university or visit their website to get the exact details and HECS-HELP form.
*The last day you can withdraw from a subject without financial or academic penalties.