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What is HECS-HELP?

The HECS‑HELP scheme is both a student loan and a student discount. Eligible students may access a HECS‑HELP loan to assist them to pay their higher education fees (student contribution amount).

Alternatively, eligible students can access the HECS‑HELP discount by receiving a 10% discount on any upfront payment of $500 or more, if they choose not to use a HECS‑HELP loan.

The HECS‑HELP discount works by increasing the value of a person's upfront payment. This means that they will actually pay less for their studies if they pay their whole or partial student contribution amount upfront.

The higher education contributions cannot be claimed as a tax deduction, regardless of whether they are paid by the student, a parent, an employer or some other person, unless incurred in providing a fringe benefit.

If your HELP Repayment Income (HRI)* is more than $53,345, you will need to make a payment towards your HECS-HELP debt based upon your HRI. For example if your HRI is between $53,345 and $59,421, you need to pay 4.0% of your HRI as a compulsory repayment.  Your HRI is calculated as your Taxable Income plus any total net investment loss (which includes net rental losses), total reportable fringe benefits amounts, reportable super contributions and exempt foreign employment income, so salary sacrificing superannuation or investing in a negatively geared rental property will not be a suitable tax strategy to defer repaying a HECS-HELP debt.

The ATO will calculate your compulsory repayment for the year and include it on your Notice of Assessment.  This repayment will be offset against any potential Income Tax Refund you would otherwise be entitled to.  If there is a deficit of refund to offset against, you will be required to pay the difference.

Below is a table of the HELP repayment thresholds and rates.

HELP repayment thresholds and rates

2014-15

HELP repayment income (HRI*)

Repayment rate

Below $53,345

Nil

$53,345 - $59,421

4.0%

$59,422 - $65,497

4.5%

$65,498 - $68,939

5.0%

$68,940 - $74,105

5.5%

$74,106 - $80,257

6.0%

$80,258 - $84,481

6.5%

$84,482 - $92,970

7.0%

$92,971 - $99,069

7.5%

$99,070 and above

8.0%