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Three things to know about HECS-HELP

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If you’re about to begin studying an undergraduate degree, there’s a strong chance you are eligible to receive HECS-HELP.

The HECS-HELP scheme can be accessed as a loan or a discount. If you choose to defer your fees, the government can give you a HECS-HELP loan, which you will pay back one day. If you want to pay your fees upfront, then you will be eligible for a HECS-HELP discount on the overall cost of your fees.

So how do you know if you are eligible for HECS-HELP?

To get HECS-HELP you need to have a Commonwealth supported place, which means the government is subsidising your education – and you don’t even have to pay this subsidy back! To have a Commonwealth supported place you need to be a domestic undergraduate university student and an Australian or New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

When should you apply for HECS-HELP?

It is best to sort out your HECS-HELP form, provided to you by your university, when you enrol. This means it is one less thing to worry about when you begin your studies. Don’t worry, it is simple and quick to fill out! Once you begin studying, you will find out about your census date, which is the official deadline for your HECS-HELP form.

How do the repayments work?

Even though you don’t need to repay your HECS-HELP debt until you are finished studying, it is a good idea to understand the debt before you sign up for it.

You only have to start paying back your debt when your income is over the compulsory repayment threshold, which changes every year. So, if you don’t get a job straight away, or are on a low salary, you will not have to pay your debt back at this time. Your HECS-HELP loan is also interest free, so there is no rush to pay it off anyway.

Your employer will ensure your HECS-HELP debt is withheld with your tax at every pay cheque. Make sure to tell your employer you have a HECS-HELP debt when you start work, because if you don’t you will have to pay the whole years’ worth of repayments at the end of the financial year.

At the end of the financial year you will also get a statement from the ATO showing how much you owe in total and how much you paid off during the previous year.

Studying doesn’t have to cause a huge amount of financial stress to you and your family. There are options for student loans, discounts and even scholarships at your institution that you can explore.