Information for students about government assistance for financing tertiary study.
In this section
On this page:
The Australian Government has announced a range of reforms to improve the higher education sector. These reforms will deliver a more sustainable sector, more choices for students and increase transparency and accountability in higher education.
For more information about how these changes might affect you, click here.
For more detail about the reform measures, visit the Department of Education and Training Higher Education Reforms webpage (opens in a new tab).
How much do I owe?
You can now view your HELP debt, confirm your payment reference number (PRN) and view payment options online via the myGov website. To access this online services for individuals, you need to create a myGov account linked to the ATO (opens in a new window).
Alternatively, you can contact the ATO on 13 28 61 to find out the balance of your HELP debt. Be sure to have your tax file number (TFN) handy when you call. The ATO will ask you for it for security purposes before they disclose any personal information to you.
When do I have to repay my HELP debt?
You have to start repaying your HELP debt through the taxation system once your repayment income is above the compulsory repayment threshold, even if you are still studying. The compulsory repayment threshold is adjusted each year. The compulsory repayment threshold for the 2015-2016 income year is $54,126 and the compulsory repayment threshold for the 2016-2017 income year is $54,869.
Repayment income is calculated from the amounts given on your income tax return for:
- your taxable income;
- reportable fringe benefits (reported on your payment summary);
- total net investment loss (which includes net rental loss);
- reportable super contributions; and
- exempt foreign employment income amounts.
Return to top
How much will my repayments be?
The amount you repay each year is a percentage of your income. The percentage increases as your income increases, so the more you earn, the higher your repayment will be. The ATO will calculate your compulsory repayment for the year and include it on your income tax notice of assessment.
Will I be charged interest?
Can I pay off my debt sooner?
Yes. You can make a voluntary repayment to the ATO at any time and for any amount. Voluntary repayments are in addition to the compulsory repayments made through your tax return.
You can find more information on voluntary repayments here.
Note: The 5% voluntary repayment bonus ceased on 1 January 2017.
How do I make a voluntary repayment?
You can make a voluntary repayment by BPAY or direct credit, credit card or by posting a cheque to the ATO. To make a voluntary repayment you will need your PRN. You can contact the ATO on 13 28 61 for further information on how to make your voluntary payment or visit ATO voluntary repayments.
The HELP voluntary repayment bonus was removed on 1 January 2017.
- checking your PRN from previous ATO notices or payment slips,
- asking your tax agent
- phoning 1800 815 886, 8.00am–6.00pm, Monday to Friday, or
- emailing your request to:[email protected]
You will have different PRNs for different types of tax, for example income tax and HELP debt. Make sure you use your HELP PRN to make a voluntary repayment on your HELP debt.
Once you have your PRN, and have selected your payment option, check out the ATO How to pay webpage ATO how to pay.(opens in a new window)
You can contact the ATO on 13 28 61 for further information on how to make your voluntary payment or visit ATO voluntary repayments ATO voluntary repayment webpage.
What happens if I can’t afford the repayments?
If you believe that making your compulsory repayment would cause you serious financial hardship or there are other reasons why you should not have to make a compulsory repayment, you can apply to the ATO to defer your repayment. You will need to complete the Deferring your compulsory HELP, HECS or Financial Supplement repayment form, which is available on the ATO website (opens in a new window). The form asks for a detailed statement of your household income and expenditure to justify your claim of serious hardship.
The ATO will write to say whether your application is successful. If you are unhappy with the decision, you may apply to have it reviewed within 28 days of receiving the notice. If, after the review, you still believe the ATO has made the wrong decision, you may then apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review. You need to lodge your application with the AAT within 28 days of the day you receive the outcome of the ATO’s review.
For more information on applying to defer a compulsory repayment, contact the ATO.
What happens if I go bankrupt?
Accumulated HELP debts are not provable under the Bankruptcy Act 1966. This means you will have to pay it as if you had not been declared bankrupt.
Can I get my HELP debt remitted?
Please see Re-crediting a HELP debt for information about having your HELP debt remitted (cancelled).
What happens to my HELP debt if I die?
A trustee or executor needs to lodge all outstanding tax returns on behalf of a deceased person, up to the date of the person’s death. A deceased person’s estate is only liable to repay any compulsory HELP repayment amounts that relate to their income in the period before the person’s death. Any remaining HELP debt is cancelled upon the person’s death.
Neither the deceased person’s family nor the trustee is required to pay the rest of the accumulated HELP debt.
Need more information?
Contact the ATO on 13 28 61 or visit the ATO website (opens in a new window). The ATO will ask you for your tax file number before they disclose any personal information to you. International callers should phone +61 2 6216 1111 and ask for the HELA Unit or fax +61 2 6216 7771.