HECS and HELP Student Loan Scheme Repayments

The student Higher Education Loan Program (HELP/HECS etc) repayments are added by the Tax Office to the tax payable on your tax return, based on your annual income.

The repayment rates are set year-by-year and are set out in the tables below.

On this page
Repayments 2020-21
Repayments 2019-20
Repayments 2018-19
Repayments 2017-18
Annual indexation %
Repayments 2000-01 to 2016-17
SFSS repayments
Repayment income
Voluntary payments and bonus
Waiver for very remote teachers
Lifetime loan limits
Specific occupations
Living Overseas – Tax Obligations
HECS repayment calculator
FAQ Questions and answers
Further info..

Interest is not charged on the loans, however the amount of the debt is adjusted (increased) on 1 June each year in accordance with an annually determined inflation factor. The year-by-year indexation rates are set out in the tables below – see “Debt indexation“.

Checking HECS HELP (etc) loan balance

For checking loan balances, use my.gov.au or myhelpbalance.gov.au

Voluntary payment discounts gone from 1 January 2017

Originally flagged by the previous Labor government, legislation has been approved by parliament to remove the bonuses for voluntary and upfront HECS-HELP payments. For further info – see notes below

Long Term New Zealander residents to get HELP

Legislation has been passed to allow access (from 1 January 2016) to HELP loans for New Zealand citizens (Special Category Visa holders) who first entered Australia as a minor and have been in Australia for 10 years, including 8 of the last 10 years, and 18 months of the last 2 years at the time of their HELP application.

Expats to repay HELP and TLS loans

Legislation has been passed (see here and here) to require Australian graduates living overseas to make HECS payments based on their income in the 2016-17 and following tax years if they earn above the HELP/TLS income thresholds. Previously any HECS repayment from overseas debtors had been voluntary.

From 1 January 2016 the measures require those going overseas for more than six months to register with the Tax Office. Those already overseas had until 1 July 2017 to register.

As part of the arrangements, registration through myGov is required to report income to the Tax Office.  See the Minister’s media release and further information from the Tax Office here (2018-19).

  • The income reporting threshold for 2018-19 is worldwide income of $12,989 which is 25% of the repayment threshold.

Worldwide income in excess of the repayment threshold will trigger a repayment requirement, and part year residents may also be required to lodge a tax return. The deadline for reporting and payments is 31 October.

Heading overseas? Do this:

If you have a HECS/HELP debt and intend to move overseas for 183 days or more in any 12 month period you are required to notify the Tax Office within 7 days.

The notification is made online to the Tax Office via myGov. Further instructions are here.

Trade Support Loan Scheme

Under the Trade Support Loans scheme from 1 July 2014 eligible apprentices have access to loans totalling more than $21,000 (the amount is indexed annually) over the course of their apprenticeship, with the adoption of the HECS/HELP structure for repayments from tax assessments.  The Tools For Your Trade grants scheme ceased on 30 June 2014. See further here: Trade Support Loan Program.

Annual statements

From 1 June 2013 the Tax Office no longer automatically issues an annual statement of account for HELP and the Financial Supplement. The information can be obtained via the my.Gov.au website, through a myTax data pre-fill, by a Tax Agent through the Tax Portal or by phoning the Tax Office on 13 28 61.

HECS/HELP Repayment Calculations

As an employee, if you are earning a high enough wage or salary (see thresholds table below) your periodic tax instalments are required to be increased to include a little extra from each pay to repay the HECS or HELP loan.

Tax instalment schedules

Calculated tax instalment deductions for payroll purposes can be calculated from the tax instalment schedules here (including links to printable PDFs).

Any calculated repayment amount for each tax year is also detailed on your income tax assessment, along with the loan balances.

Debt Indexation Factors

The indexation of debt balances is adjusted annually as of 1st of June. The indexation factor is calculated each year to the end of March, and is usually confirmed by May.

As at 1 June each year, indexation is applied to that part of

  • the HELP debt which has been unpaid for more than 11 months (applicable from 2006) and
  • the HECS debt which had been unpaid for 12 months or more (applicable from 1990 to 2005)

HECS/HELP Debts Indexation Factor for 2018-19 is 1.8%

Indexation Factors – All Years

HECS – HELP Annual Indexation
Year ending 30 JunePercentage
20191.8%
20181.9%
20171.5%
20161.5%
20152.1%
20142.6%
20132.0%
20122.9%
20113.0%
20101.9%
20093.9%
20082.8%
20073.4%
20062.8%
20052.4%
20042.4%
20033.1%
20023.6%
20015.3%
20001.9%
19991.9%
1998-0.1%
19972.0%
19964.6%
19952.5%
19941.9%
19930.9%
19922.4%
19916.4%
19908.0%

HELP repayment rates and thresholds

from 1 July 2020 for 2020-21

Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below $46,620Nil
$46,620 to $53,8261.00%
$53,827 to $57,0552.00%
$57,056 to $60,4792.50%
$60,480 to $64,1083.00%
$64,109 to $67,9543.50%
$67,955 to $72,0314.00%
$72,032 to $76,3544.50%
$76,355 to $80,9355.00%
$80,936 to $85,7925.50%
$85,793 to $90,9396.00%
$90,940 to $96,3966.50%
$96,397 to $102,1797.00%
$102,180 to $108,3097.50%
$108,310 to $114,7078.00%
$114,708 to $121,6988.50%
$121,699 to $128,9999.00%
$129,000 to $136,7399.50%
$136,740 and above10.00%

HECS-HELP repayment table for 2019-20

Also includes VET FEE-HELP, OS-HELP, SA-HELP and VET Student Loans

Thresholds extended and lifetime caps – see the notes underneath this table *

Income more than or equal to....and less thanRepayment rate
$0$45,881Nil
$45,881$52,9741%
$52,974$56,1522%
$56,152$59,5222.5%
$59,522$63,0933%
$63,093$66,8783.5%
$66,878$70,8914%
$70,891$75,1454.5%
$75,145$79,6535%
$79,653$84,4335.5%
$84,433$89,4996%
$89,499$94,8696.5%
$94,869$100,5617%
$100,561$106,5947.5%
$106,594$112,9908%
$112,990$119,7708.5%
$119,770$126,9569%
$126,956$134,5739.5%
$134,57310%

* Extended HELP repayment thresholds from 1 July 2019

[News May 1, 2017] The Minister Simon Birmingham announced the introduction a new (lower) income repayment thresholds as well as higher threshold bands increasing to a top 10% repayment rate. Initially intended to start from 1 July 2018, the proposed thresholds and rates were by amendment to the Bill modified and deferred until the 2019-20 and later years. The minimum repayment threshold for the 2019-20 financial year moved to $45,881, and the thresholds will be indexed in the years after 2019-20.

HELP repayment rates and thresholds
from 1 July 2018 for 2018-19 *

IncomeRepayment rate
up to $51,957Nil
$51,957 – $57,7292%
$57,730 – $64,3064%
$64,307 – $70,8814.5%
$70,882 – $74,6075%
$74,608 – $80,1975.5%
$80,198 – $86,8556%
$86,856 – $91,4256.5%
$91,426 – $100,6137%
$100,614 – $107,2137.5%
$107,214 and above8%

HELP Repayment Income Thresholds and Rates 2017-18

Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below $55,874Nil
$55,874 – $62,2384.0%
$62,239 – $68,6024.5%
$68,603 – $72,2075.0%
$72,208 – $77,6185.5%
$77,619 – $84,0626.0%
$84,063 – $88,4866.5%
$88,487 – $97,3777.0%
$97,378 – $103,7657.5%
$103,766 and above8.0%

Lifetime Loan Limits

There are caps on the amount of loans available, but the loans are renewable. Repaying loans to be within the limit provides a credit balance which can be used for further loans.

From 1 January 2020, the combined HELP loan limit is $106,319 for most students and includes all FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP, VET Students Loans and HECS-HELP with a census date from 1 January 2020.

The limit for students studying medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses leading to initial registration is $152,700.

For further information see studyassist.com.au

Repayment Income – Adjusted Taxable Income

The calculation of income for repayment purposes has an expanded definition – your repayment assessment is based on your “repayment income“, which is calculated as follows:

=  Taxable income plus the following

+ Total net investment loss (which includes net rental losses)
+ Total reportable fringe benefits amounts
+ Reportable super contributions
+ Exempt foreign employment income

Repayment Income

Income thresholds are inflation-adjusted each year. Additionally, if you are entitled to a Medicare reduction or exemption due to low family income, a compulsory repayment is not required for that year.

Voluntary Payments and Voluntary Payment Bonus

Voluntary repayments can be made at any time, but the bonuses for doing so have now been abolished (see below).

Also keep in mind the 1 June annual indexation deadline. The balance of your unpaid debt increases by an inflation factor annually on 1 June. If you intend to beat the increase by making a voluntary payment, then make sure the payment is made well before the deadline, giving the Tax Office enough time for the payment to be “received and processed”.

Repayment bonuses removed from 1 January 2017

Originally flagged by the previous Labor government,  the bonuses for voluntary or upfront HECS-HELP payments are no longer be available after 1 January 2017. Enabling legislation has now been passed by parliament which provides that:

  • a person will not receive up-front payment discount for a payment made in relation to a unit of study with a census date on or after the first 1 January 2017.
  • a person will not receive the HELP voluntary repayment bonus for voluntary payments made on or after the first 1 January 2017.

The position up to 31 December 2016 was:

  • Additional voluntary repayments of $500 or more earn a 5% bonus credit (10% up to 31 December 2011).
  • The bonus credit is received for each eligible repayment, or on clearance of the debt balance.

Waiver for very remote teachers

Legislation has been passed which provides HELP loan remissions for teachers who commence teaching in very remote locations on or after 14 February 2019 (being the commencement of the 2019 school year).

The scheme starts by providing relief from debt indexation for the time spent teaching in a remote area, and after a qualifying period (basically 4 years) enables a loan waiver.

Who are the eligible remote teachers?

The teachers are those teaching in any of:
– a school providing primary or secondary education
– a centre based day care service or
– a preschool

Where are the eligible very remote teaching areas?

The remote areas are designated on government lists:

Very remote day care centre list
Very remote preschools list (NSW NT QLD SA)
Very remote primary and secondary schools list (includes WA and Tas preschools)

What are the benefits, and when do they apply?

There are two parts to the benefit.

  1. From 14 February 2019 there is relief from loan indexation for the period(s) spent teaching in a designated area.
  2. The second part of the scheme is remission of the HELP loan itself.

Remission of debt is available after a 4 year qualifying period of teaching in a very remote area, and on that basis will first be available from 2023.

The requirements are for the completion of 4 years full time within a six-year period (from Feb 2019), or the equivalent pro-rated part time.

The  remission applies to HELP debt from the cost of obtaining your initial teacher education qualification (max 5 years) in either Commonwealth supported or full fee paying courses. Any remission is limited to the amount of debt at the time of commencing service in a very remote area.

How can you get the remote teacher benefits?

For relief from debt indexation (available now): Use this form

Debt remission (available from 2023): The education.gov.au website at the time of writing indicates that the Department will work with you and the ATO to calculate the debt amount to be discharged.

Further information:
education.gov.au
education.gov.au/faq

HECS-HELP Bonus Debt Reductions For Specific Occupations (scheme ended)

Note: In the 2014 Budget the Government announced that the HECS-HELP benefit scheme will end.

Amending legislation has been passed by parliament which terminates benefits after 30 June 2017 see Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016 and further details of the phase-out arrangements here.

Time limits: Graduates have a maximum of 2 years after the relevant year to claim the benefit with no extensions permissible.  Deadlines are:

Income yearApplication Deadline
2016-1730 June 2019
2015-1630 June 2018
2014-1530 June 2017

To encourage specific occupations repayment reductions are available for graduates employed in specific occupational areas, with the reduction amounts indexed annually, applied for after the end of the financial year. There is a fixed claim period of 2 years from the end of the financial year.

The purpose of the benefit is designed to encourage graduates into employment in their field.  The favoured course types are:

  • early childhood education (ECE)
  • maths and science
  • education
  • nursing (including midwifery)   

The maximum benefit amounts for each tax year are:

Income yearEarly childhood educationMaths/scienceEducation and nursing
2016-17$1,947.17$1,825.46$1,825.46
2015-16$1,918.39$1,798.48$1,798.48
2014-15$1,878.93$1,761.49$1,761.49
2013–14$1,831.32$1,716.85$1,716.85
2012–13$1,795.41$1,683.19$1,683.19
2011–12$1,744.81$1,635.75$1,635.75
2010–11$1,693.99$1,588.11$1,588.11
2009–10$1,662.40$1,558.50$1,558.50
2008–09$1,600.00$1,500.00Not applicable

Source: studyassist.gov.au

Further information:    

FAQ Questions and Answers

Is HECS debt automatically deducted?

If your income reaches the level where a loan repayment is required, the amount will be automatically calculated as a percentage of your repayment income and added to your income tax assessment calculation

How much do you pay back on HECS?

The repayment percentage depends on your income. There are different percentages at different income levels which are indexed every year. The current repayment income levels and percentages are listed above.

What happens when I pay off my HECS debt?

When you have paid off your HECS debt the balance will be recorded as zero and consequently the percentage surcharge will no longer be added to your annual tax assessment.

You should also lodge a fresh tax withholding declaration with your employer to ensure that the higher HECS-included tax withholding rate is no longer being applied. Select “no” at question 6.

Tax withholding declaration for HECS

If the higher rate of tax has been collected after the HECS loan has been paid off, the excess tax will appear as a credit in your next tax assessment.

Should I pay off my HECS?

HECS is a loan, and the timing and manner of a voluntary repayment is a financial decision based on your circumstances. So advice cannot be offered here, but some comments may help.

Firstly, bear in mind that HECS is a special kind of loan from the government. ‘Special’ because it is not subject to interest, and will only be repayable if your income reaches the specified levels.

However although interest is not payable, the unpaid balance of the loan goes up every year by the amount of inflation. The annual inflation factor is updated every year as of 1 June, and for the last couple of years (at the time of writing) has been just under 2%.

If you have spare cash, then one (but not the only) fundamental decision is whether your cash can be invested to earn more than the (for example currently) just-under-2% rate in an alternative investment, or by repaying debt with a higher after-tax interest rate such as a car loan. These are questions for your financial advisor who should take into account your overall life-style, financial goals and financial capacity, and who should also be able to suggest investment alternatives.

Caution: If you are intending to beat the annual 1 June indexation loan increase by making a voluntary payment, be aware that the Tax Office need “enough time for the payment to be received and processed” prior to 1 June, otherwise you may be stuck with the indexation increase even though you have made full payment on a date before, but too close to, 1st June.

How long is “enough time” is not spelled out, and will in part depend on your bank and the payment method.

How much HECS do I pay?

The HECS repayment schedule  changes each year as the income bands and debt amount are both indexed to inflation.

The PAYG tax deduction schedules automatically take care of this if you tick the correct box in the tax withholding declaration, so at the end of the year when you lodge your tax return you shouldn’t have any more to pay (all things being equal).

Select YES at question 6 for HECS tax instalment deductions

That won’t apply if you’re working overseas, as there’s a separate procedure for non-residents.

If you expect that enough tax instalments haven’t been made, or if you are just curious, you can refer to the HECS repayment schedules above to estimate how much the bill will be. Based on your estimate of ‘repayment income’, the repayment table provides a corresponding flat percentage of the indexed loan amount required to be paid. ‘Repayment income‘ is taxable income plus a few other items – you can check here.

Indexation occurs in June (based on March CPI) and so you may need to estimate that as well, to determine the debt value.

Once you have your income and debt balance estimates, the calculation is quite simple: the repayment amount is the debt value multiplied by the percentage which corresponds to the estimated income.

HECS HELP Calculator
2019 and 2020 HECS repayment calculator
For convenience, here is a spreadsheet HECS calculator here for 2019-20 and 2020-21 years where you can enter the income and debt estimates to get an estimated repayment amount. To edit the sheet, make a copy.

What happens to HECS when I retire?

HECS debts stay with you for life until repaid, and will follow you into retirement. Retirement income, or more specifically ‘repayment income‘ will be subject to the current repayment schedule as outlined above.

What happens to HECS when I die?

HECS debts are recoverable up to the date of death. The trustee or other executor of a deceased person’s estate needs to facilitate the final tax return, on which a tax assessment will incorporate any HECS loan repayment amount based on the current income schedule.

After death any remaining debt is cancelled. See studyassist.gov.au

HECS/HELP Repayment Rates 2000-01 to 2016-17

2016 – 17
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 54,868Nil
54,869 to 61,1194.00%
61,120 to 67,3684.50%
67,369 to 70,9095.00%
70,910 to 76,2225.50%
76,223 to 82,5506.00%
82,551 to 86,8946.50%
86,895 to 95,6267.00%
95,627 to 101,8997.50%
101,900 and above8.00%
2015 – 16
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 54,126Nil
54,126 to 60,2924.00%
60,293 to 66,4564.50%
66,457 to 69,9495.00%
69,950 to 75,1905.50%
75,191 to 81,4326.00%
81,433 to 85,7186.50%
85,719 to 94,3317.00%
94,332 to 100,5197.50%
100,520 and above8.00%
2014 – 15
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 53,345Nil
53,345 to 59,4214.00%
59,422 to 65,4974.50%
65,498 to 68,9395.00%
68,940 to 74,1055.50%
74,106 to 80,2576.00%
80,258 to 84,4816.50%
84,482 to 92,9707.00%
92,971 to 99,0697.50%
99,070 and above8.00%
2013 – 14
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 51,309Nil
51,309 to57,1534.00%
57,154 to 62,9974.50%
62,998 to 66,3085.00%
66,309 to 71,2775.50%
71,278 to 77,1946.00%
77,195 to 81,2566.50%
81,257 to 89,4217.00%
89,422 to 95,2877.50%
95,288 and above8.00%
2012 – 13
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 49,096Nil
49,096 to 54,6884.00%
54,689 to 60,2794.50%
60,280 to 63,4485.00%
63,449 to 68,2025.50%
68,203 to 73,8646.00%
73,865 to 77,7516.50%
77,752 to 85,5647.00%
85,565 to 91,1777.50%
91,178 and above8.00%
2011 – 12
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 47,196Nil
47,196 to 52,5724.00%
52,573 to 57,9474.50%
57,948 to 60,9935.00%
60,994 to 65,5635.50%
65,564 to 71,0066.00%
71,007 to 74,7436.50%
74,744 to 82,2537.00%
82,254 to 87,6497.50%
87,650 and above8.00%
2010 – 11
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 44,912Nil
44,912 to 50,0284.00%
50,029 to 55,1434.50%
55,144 to 58,0415.00%
58,042 to 62,3905.50%
62,391 to 67,5706.00%
67,571 to 71,1266.50%
71,127 to 78,2737.00%
78,274 to 83,4077.50%
83,408 and above8.00%
2009 – 10
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 43,151Nil
43,151 to 48,0664.00%
48,067 to 52,9804.50%
52,981 to 55,7645.00%
55,765 to 59,9535.50%
59,954 to 64,9196.00%
64,920 to 68,3366.50%
68,337 to 75,2037.00%
75,204 to 80,1367.50%
80,137 and above8.00%
2008 – 09
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 41,595Nil
41,595 to 46,3334.00%
46,334 to 51,0704.50%
51,071 to 53,7545.00%
53,755 to 57,7825.50%
57,783 to 62,5796.00%
62,580 to 65,8736.50%
65,874 to 72,4927.00%
72,493 to 77,2477.50%
77,248 and above8.00%
2007 – 08
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 39,825Nil
39,826 to 44,3604.00%
44,361 to 48,8964.50%
48,897 to 51,4665.00%
51,467 to 55,3225.50%
55,323 to 59,9156.00%
59,916 to 63,0686.50%
63,069 to 69,4057.00%
69,406 to 73,9597.50%
73,960 and above8.00%
2006 – 07
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 38,148Nil
38,149 to 42,4944.00%
42,495 to 46,8384.50%
46,839 to 49,3005.00%
49,301 to 52,9945.50%
52,995 to 57,3946.00%
57,395 to 60,4146.50%
60,415 to 66,4857.00%
66,486 to 70,8467.50%
70,847 and above8.00%
2005 – 06
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 36,185Nil
36,186 to 40,3064.00%
40,307 to 44,4274.50%
44,428 to 46,7625.00%
46,763 to 50,2665.50%
50,267 to 54,4396.00%
54,440 to 57,3046.50%
57,305 to 63,0627.00%
63,063 to 67,1997.50%
67,200 and above8.00%
2004 – 05
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 35,000Nil
35,001 to 38,9874.00%
38,988 to 42,9724.50%
42,973 to 45,2325.00%
45,233 to 48,6215.50%
48,622 to 52,6576.00%
52,658 to 55,4296.50%
55,430 to 60,9717.00%
60,972 to 64,9997.50%
65,000 and above8.00%
2003 – 04
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 25,348Nil
25,348 to 26,7313.00%
26,732 to 28,8053.50%
28,806 to 33,4144.00%
33,415 to 40,3284.50%
40,329 to 42,4475.00%
42,448 to 45,6285.50%
45,629 and above6.00%
2002 – 03
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 24,365Nil
24,365 to 25,6943.00%
25,695 to 27,6883.50%
27,689 to 32,1184.00%
32,119 to 38,7634.50%
38,764 to 40,8015.00%
40,802 to 43,8585.50%
43,859 and above6.00%
2001 – 02
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 23,242Nil
23,242 to 24,5103.00%
24,511 to 26,4123.50%
26,413 to 30,6384.00%
30,639 to 36,9774.50%
36,978 to 38,9215.00%
38,922 to 41,8375.50%
41,838 and above6.00%
2000 – 01
Repayment incomeRepayment rate
Below 22,346Nil
22,346 to 23,5653.00%
23,566 to 25,3933.50%
25,394 to 29,4564.00%
29,457 to 35,5514.50%
35,552 to 37,4205.00%
37,421 to 40,2235.50%
40,224 and above6.00%

This page was last modified 2020-05-05