Programme 2.4 Higher Education Loan Programme

Provision of Higher Education Loan Programme loans to higher education students

The Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) supports access to higher education for Australian citizens and permanent humanitarian visa holders. HELP consists of a number of programmes:

  • HECS-HELP for eligible Commonwealth-supported students
  • FEE-HELP for eligible fee-paying students enrolled at an eligible provider
  • VET FEE-HELP for eligible students undertaking certain VET courses
  • OS-HELP to assist Commonwealth-supported students who wish to study overseas
  • SA-HELP to assist students to pay their student services and amenities fee.

Repayment of Higher Education Loan Programme debts

Individuals’ debts from each of these programmes are combined by the Australian Taxation Office and treated as one debt. The repayment arrangements under HELP ensure that people only commence repaying their HELP loan once their income exceeds the minimum repayment income ($53,344 in 2014–15). People may also make voluntary repayments towards their HELP debts at any time.

VET FEE-HELP component

The VET FEE-HELP scheme provides access to higher level vocational education and training for many Australians by removing the need for individuals to pay for their training upfront through the use of an income-contingent loan. The scheme offers many students the opportunity to enhance their skills, many of whom may not otherwise have been able to afford to do so.

In 2014–15 the Government commenced introduction of a range of reforms to the VET FEE-HELP scheme to protect vulnerable students and taxpayers, and the reputation of Australia’s high quality VET system, from the unfair and unethical actions of a small number of unscrupulous training providers or their agents/brokers. Implementation of these reforms commenced in April 2015 with changes to legislative guidelines banning providers from offering prohibited inducements designed to entice students to enrol in courses under the VET FEE-HELP scheme.

Performance Information

Table 9: Programme 2.4 Higher Education Loan Programme performance information
Deliverables Estimate Actual
Provision of HELP loans to higher education students
Number of Commonwealth supported places for which HECS-HELP loans paid 509,100 507,629
Number of places for which FEE-HELP loans paid 91,600 76,613
Number of OS-HELP loans to assist students to undertake some of their course overseas 12,500 10,986
Number of SA-HELP loans to assist students to pay their services and amenities fees 479,900 444,344
Number of places for which VET FEE-HELP loans paid 225,500 131,344


Key Performance Indicators Estimate Actual
Students who are able to repay their HELP debts do so
Average amount of debt ($) a 17,500 18,000
Average number of years to repay debt 8.7 8.7
Proportion of new debt not expected to be repaid 20% 19%

aAverage amount of outstanding debt.

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