FEE-HELP

The Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) is a loan scheme provided by the Australian Government to assist higher education students to meet the tuition costs of their studies.

FEE-HELP is the loan program that assists graduate students who are required to pay domestic tuition fees (DTF).

HECS-HELP is the loan program that assists commonwealth supported students (mostly undergraduates) with paying their student contribution amount.

What is FEE-HELP?

FEE-HELP is a loan scheme that assists eligible fee-paying students to pay their tuition fees. FEE-HELP can cover all or part of a student’s tuition fees. Over their lifetime, a student may borrow through FEE-HELP an amount up to the FEE-HELP limit (see below) to pay their tuition fees.

There is no loan fee for FEE-HELP loans for graduate courses or bridging study for overseas-trained professionals.

Through FEE-HELP, the Australian Government pays the amount of the loan direct to ANU. Students repay their loans through the Australian taxation system once their income is above the minimum repayment threshold for compulsory repayment. Voluntary repayments may be made at any time regardless of income.

Who is eligible to use FEE-HELP?

Australian citizens and permanent humanitarian visa holders (PDF, 49KB) who are enrolled in an award program are eligible to use FEE-HELP providing they complete a Request for FEE-HELP assistance on or before the census date of their first course in their current session/semester, and have not exceeded their FEE-HELP limit.

Students enrolled in a non-award program are not eligible to use FEE-HELP for that course.

Permanent residents, New Zealand Citizens and temporary residents are not eligible to use FEE-HELP.

Will my income and assets affect my eligibility for FEE-HELP?

No. Your income and assets do not affect your eligibility for FEE-HELP. Your income may result in you being required to start to repay your FEE-HELP debt.

What is an eligible course for FEE-HELP?

An eligible course of study is a subject which is part of a program leading to a higher education award (eg Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma or Masters by coursework).

How much can I borrow?

Eligible students may borrow up to the FEE-HELP limit to pay tuition fees over their lifetime.

From 1 January 2014, the FEE-HELP limit is $96,000, unless a student is undertaking a medicine, dentistry, or veterinary science course. If a student is undertaking a medicine, dentistry, or veterinary science course, the FEE-HELP limit is $120,002.

The FEE-HELP limit is indexed on 1 January each year.

As a person uses FEE-HELP to pay tuition fees, the amount they may borrow in the future is reduced. Once a person has borrowed an amount equal to the FEE-HELP limit (the indexed amount at that time), they will not be able to receive FEE-HELP to pay tuition fees. This applies even if a person has partially or fully repaid their FEE-HELP loan.

How does FEE-HELP assist me to pay my tuition fees?

ANU will set the tuition fee for the courses you study and the date by which payment of your fee is required. If you decide not to pay the full tuition fee up-front to ANU, and you are eligible for FEE-HELP, you may:

  • Pay some of the tuition fee up-front and request a FEE-HELP loan for the remainder of the tuition fee; or
  • Request a FEE-HELP loan for the full tuition fee

If you are entitled to FEE-HELP, the Australian Government will lend to you the amount of any tuition fee for your course of study which has not been paid by the the census date for the course. You must apply for a FEE-HELP loan before a FEE-HELP loan will be given to you. This must be done on or before the census date of your first course.

The Australian Government will pay the outstanding amount of your tuition fee direct to ANU on your behalf.

What does FEE-HELP cover?

FEE-HELP provides a loan for tuition fees only. FEE-HELP does not cover accommodation, textbooks, general living expenses etc.

What is my FEE-HELP balance?

Your ‘FEE-HELP balance’ is the amount of FEE-HELP you are still able to borrow.

For example, if you commenced an graduate law program as a fee paying student and borrowed $12,600 through FEE-HELP to pay the tuition fees in 2013, your FEE-HELP balance will be $83,400 at the beginning of 2014. Once you reach the FEE-HELP limit, your FEE-HELP balance is nil.

What if my tuition fee for a course of study exceeds my FEE-HELP balance?

If you enrol in a course of study and the tuition fee exceeds your FEE-HELP balance, you will receive FEE-HELP assistance only for an amount equal to your FEE-HELP balance.

You will need to pay the remainder of your tuition fee direct to ANU. If you do not do this, ANU may cancel your enrolment as some of your tuition fee will remain unpaid.

It is your responsibility to be aware of your FEE-HELP balance and to advise the ANU if you do not have sufficient FEE-HELP balance to cover your tuition fee.

How do I apply for FEE-HELP assistance?

If you are eligible for FEE-HELP assistance and would like to obtain a FEE-HELP loan, you should complete a Request for FEE-HELP assistance form. All FEE-HELP forms are completed through ISIS by selecting ‘Account details’ from the menu list and then selecting ‘eCAF’. If there is no form available on ISIS and you believe your are eligible to use FEE-HELP, you should contact the Student Administration & Records Office immediately.

You must complete and submit the request for FEE-HELP assistance form through ISIS on or before the census date for the first course for which you wish to obtain FEE-HELP assistance. If you have not submitted a completed request for FEE-HELP assistance form on or before the census date for the course, you will not be entitled to FEE-HELP assistance for that course and the Australian Government will not pay your tuition fee for that course.

What does signing the request for FEE-HELP assistance form mean?

When you sign your Request for FEE-HELP assistance form, you are:

  • confirming that you have read the FEE-HELP information booklet (PDF, 805KB) and the form and are aware of your obligations under FEE-HELP
  • requesting the Australian Government to lend you the amount of the tuition fee outstanding at the census date for each course of study covered by the form and to use this amount to pay the outstanding amount of your tuition fee to ANU on your behalf
  • agreeing to begin repaying the loan to the Australian Government, through the taxation system, when your income for an income year is above the minimum repayment threshold for compulsory repayment.

What if I only want FEE-HELP for some courses of study?

You may choose to pay the tuition fee for some or all of the courses covered by your form. If you request your FEE-HELP loan to be stopped indefinitely, and at a later date you wish for your FEE-HELP loan to be reinstated, it is your responsibility to ensure that this request is put in writing to the Student Administration & Records Office on or before the census date of the course for which you wish to use FEE-HELP. An invoice will be issued to you even though you have chosen to use FEE HELP. This allows you to make a payment before the census date of your course/s but if you do not make a payment by the course/s census date the debt will then be deferred through FEE HELP.

Do I have to provide my tax file number?

You will be asked to provide your tax file number (TFN) when completing and submitting the Request for FEE-HELP assistance form.

If you choose not to provide your TFN, you will not be entitled to FEE-HELP. If you cannot quote your TFN when you enrol, you should either obtain a TFN, or a Certificate of application for a tax file number (TFN) from the Australian Taxation Office stating that you have applied for one, and then provide that certificate to the Student Administration & Records Office on or before census date.

ANU will use your TFN to provide advice to the the Department of Industry Innovation Science Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE) regarding the amount of your loan.

When is the closing date for requesting FEE-HELP?

You must submit your Request for FEE-HELP assistance form online through ISIS on or before census date for the first course of study for which you wish to obtain FEE-HELP assistance.

If you have not submitted a completed Request for FEE-HELP assistance form on or before the census date, you will not be entitled to FEE-HELP for that course. The Australian Government will not pay your tuition fee for that course. Census date deadlines cannot be extended.

What if I change my program of study?

You will need to submit a new Request for FEE-HELP assistance form if you transfer from one program to another.

When do I incur a debt?

You incur a FEE-HELP debt immediately after the census date for each course of study for which you have received FEE-HELP assistance.

How can I check if the calculation of my FEE-HELP debt is correct?

After the census date for the relevant course or courses, ANU will provide you with a Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN) for that course. Your CAN will be available on ISIS by selecting ‘account details’ from the menu and then selecting ‘eCAN’. This is your electronic Commonwealth Assistance Notice which provides you with information on your FEE-HELP debt for that course. The notice may cover more than one course.

Your notice will enable you to check if the calculation of your FEE-HELP debt for the courses covered by the notice is correct.

If you believe the CAN is incorrect, you should submit a written request to the Manager of the Student Information Services Office within 14 days of the date of your CAN asking for the CAN to be corrected. You should identify the matters in the CAN that you believe are not correct and specify why you believe they are incorrect.

How can I find out my FEE-HELP balance?

Students are able to access the myUniAssist link for a summary of their personal details regarding Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) assistance through the Study Assist website. Using their Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN) and other personal identifying data, students can view their FEE-HELP usage as reported to the Department of Industry Innovation Science Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE) by ANU and other institutions. However this may not show your most recent courses taken so please check your Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN).

You should keep a record of all CANs that are made available to you. You need to be aware of the total amount of tuition fees that have been paid on your behalf using FEE-HELP. It is your responsibility to be aware of your FEE-HELP balance.

You must advise ANU if your FEE-HELP balance is less than the tuition fees you are required to pay. If you enrol in a course of study and the tuition fee exceeds your FEE-HELP balance, you will receive FEE-HELP assistance only for an amount equal to your FEE-HELP balance.

You will need to pay the remainder of your tuition fee direct to ANU. If you do not do this the ANU may cancel your enrolment as some of your tuition fee will remain unpaid.  

For further information see the the Study Assist website or contact the Study Assist Student Enquiry Line on 1800 020 108.

The Study Assist website is maintained by the Department of Industry Innovation Science Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE).

What happens if I withdraw after the census date?

If you have not paid your tuition fees, and you have requested FEE-HELP assistance, and you withdraw after the census date, you will have a debt to the Australian Government that you are legally required to pay.

If, after the census date, you become seriously ill, or other special circumstances occur and you are unable to continue your studies, you can apply to ANU to have your FEE-HELP balance re-credited and your FEE-HELP debt removed for that course(s). You should note that there are time limits for applying.

How do I apply to have my FEE-HELP balance re-credited and my debt removed in special circumstances?

If you withdraw your enrolment in a course after the census date, or have not completed the requirements for a course, as a result of special circumstances, you may apply to have your FEE-HELP balance re-credited. Your FEE-HELP debt can only be re-credited in special circumstances.

If your FEE-HELP balance for a course is re-credited, any FEE-HELP debt you have incurred for that course will automatically be removed.

If you have successfully completed a course, you are not eligible to apply to have your FEE-HELP balance re-credited or your debt removed for that course.

How to apply

To apply for a remission of FEE-HELP debt in special circumstances, you must apply for a late withdrawal.

You must make your application for late withdrawal to ANU within twelve months after your withdrawal date.

See the fee refund policies for more details.

What happens if I fail a course?

If you fail a course, you still have to pay the debt for that course. It does not matter whether or not you attended any classes.

When do I start repaying my debt?

You start repaying your accumulated HELP debt when your repayment income is above the minimum repayment threshold for compulsory repayment. The repayment thresholds are adjusted each year to reflect any changes in average weekly earnings.

The minimum repayment threshold for the 2014-15 income year is $53,345.

For further information regarding your repayment income, contact the Australian Taxation Office.

How much will my repayments be?

When your repayment income is above the minimum repayment threshold for any particular year, the Australian Taxation Office will calculate your compulsory repayment for that year and include it on your income tax notice of assessment. The repayment thresholds are adjusted each year to reflect any change in average weekly earnings.

Your compulsory repayment increases as your repayment income increases. The more you earn the higher your repayment. Your compulsory repayment is based on your income alone, not the income of your parents or spouse.

You must start repaying your debt when your repayment income is above the minimum repayment threshold, even if you are still studying.

More information on repayment amounts and thresholds is available in the FEE-HELP information booklet (PDF, 805KB).

Is interest charged on my debt?

No. You are not charged interest on your debt. Your accumulated HELP debt is indexed annually on 1 June each year to maintain its real value by adjusting it in line with changes in the cost of living (as measured by the CPI). The indexation figure is calculated each year after the March CPI is released.

Can I make voluntary repayments?

You can make a voluntary repayment to the Australian Taxation Office at any time and for any amount. Making a voluntary repayment reduces your debt immediately. However, you may still have to may a compulsory repayment, if after making a voluntary repayment:

  • you still have an accumulated HELP debt; and
  • your repayment income is above the minimum repayment threshold.

Voluntary repayments are in addition to compulsory repayments. They are not refundable.

Further information

Further information is available in the FEE-HELP information booklet (PDF, 805KB) produced by the Australian Government.

The Australian Taxation Office can explain what happens once you have a HELP debt, including how compulsory repayments are calculated and how indexation works.

If you have a tax file number, please have it ready before you call the Australian Taxation Office.

Updated:  18 October 2014/ Responsible Officer:  Registrar/ Page Contact:  DRSS Communications