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.