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HECS-HELP debts

Studying can be hugely rewarding, but it doesn't come cheap. If you have a HECS-HELP debt, you'll have to repay it through the Australian Tax Office (ATO) when your income is above the minimum compulsory repayment threshold.

If you've received your Notice of Assessment from the ATO and you're struggling to pay your HECS-HELP debt liability, follow these steps.

Steps to take to get your HECS-HELP debts under control

01

Work out what you can afford to pay

If you're struggling to pay back money you owe, the first thing to do is to work out what you can actually afford to pay by doing a simple budget. How to work out what you can afford to pay.

If you can afford to pay something
Start paying the amount you can afford and get in touch with your creditor straight away to put a repayment agreement in place.

If you can't afford to pay anything
Call us on 1800 007 007 straight away for advice.

02

Make a repayment arrangement with the ATO

Call the ATO's individual tax self-helpline on 13 72 26 and make an arrangement to pay.

If the payment amounts you can reasonably afford are quite low, you'll need to go through the ATO's hardship department to arrange payment. Refer to Tax debts for the process.

The ATO will send you a sheet of payment slips to use once you agree on an amount. Note that you'll usually be charged interest on the overdue amount of your HECS-HELP debt while you're paying it off.

Tips IconTips

  • When you can, make voluntary payments to reduce your debt more quickly
  • You can make voluntary payments even when you are overseas
03

Ask if you can defer your HECS-HELP payment

You may apply to defer your compulsory repayment if:

  • Making your compulsory repayment would cause you serious hardship (which means you can’t afford to provide food and accommodation for yourself or your dependents)
  • There are other special reasons why you can't make a compulsory repayment, such as a death in your family, travel reasons, or a natural disaster

Resources IconResource

If you think you're in a position to defer, fill out the defer application form that can be downloaded from the Australian Taxation Office website.

If you applied for deferment due to hardship or special circumstances and don't get the decision you want, you can appeal. You have 28 days to appeal through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

04

Speak to one of our financial counsellors

If your problem still hasn't been solved, or you're feeling overwhelmed, call us on 1800 007 007 to speak with one of our financial counsellors.

Repaying HECS-HELP debts

What is the minimum payment threshold?

Refer to the ATO's repayment thresholds.

What happens if I go and live overseas?

When you go to live in another country, your HECS-HELP debt will still exist. You'll still have to pay it when you return.
 

Will my loan be charged interest?

No, your HECS-HELP debt will not be charged interest. It will be indexed against the Consumer Price Index (CPI) each year. This means that your debt will keep its real value.
 

What happens if I change my mind and don’t want to study anymore?

If you change your mind, you’ll still have to pay your HECS-HELP debt.