What is HECS and how does it work? A parents guide

When you’re a parent of a soon-to-be university student, it’s important to be across all the finer details. This means being armed with the knowledge to support your child as they decide how they will fund their uni experience. Now, not everyone has enough spare cash to fund a degree sitting in their rainy day fund. That’s where a little thing called HECS comes in. But what is HECS and how does it work? Let’s break it down!

What is HECS?

The Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) is an integral part of the Australian higher education system. 

When your child attends uni or an approved higher education provider, they’ll be given the option to access HECS-HELP to pay for their studies. This means that each subject they take will be added to their HECS loan and they won’t need to pay anything upfront.

Now, your child can only get a HECS-HELP loan if they’re enrolled in a Commonwealth-supported place (CSP). So, make sure they don’t accidentally select the full-fee paying option for their course when they apply!

Who is HECS for?

As we now know, HECS is an option for students in a CSP place. But there are certain criteria that your child will need to meet to be eligible for HECS-HELP.

To meet eligibility requirements, your child will need to:

  • be enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place
  • be an Australian citizen and meet residency requirements or be a New Zealand Special Category Visa holder or permanent humanitarian visa holder and meet residency requirements
  • submit the Request for Commonwealth support and HECS-HELP form by census date
  • be enrolled in each unit/subject by census date
  • have available HELP balance.

What is a Commonwealth supported place?

A Commonwealth-supported place (CSP) is a university or higher education place where the Australian government pays part of your child’s course fees. 

So, in short, it is a subsided place in their university course. The best part? Your child won’t have to pay the subsidised part of their course costs back!

What’s census date?

Put simply, census date is the last date that your child will be able to finalise their enrolment or withdraw from any units of study without having to repay the cost of the subject via HECS-HELP.

It is also the last day that your child can make an upfront payment for their course fees, if they were looking at this as an option. The census date is usually a few weeks into the session. So it’s important that your child completes their enrolment and requests Commonwealth support as early as possible.

But don’t worry too much. We’re here to help your child navigate the enrolment process and will remind them to complete their documentation before census date comes around.

How much can your child borrow?

Now, we’ve established that the government subsidises CSP places at uni, but what does that mean for the remaining courses fees? Well, you can be confident that with HECS-HELP your child won’t have to pay any of their fees upfront.

Your child can borrow up to the combined HELP loan limit to pay their tuition fees. And the HECS-HELP loan limit in 2021 is a whopping $108,232. So if your child aspires to be a medical doctor or continue with postgraduate or research study later on, they will be able to achieve this with the government’s study assistance.

What will my child need to apply for HECS-HELP?

Firstly, your child will need to have a tax file number.

Secondly, they will need to complete a Request for Commonwealth support and HECS-HELP form. This will be provided to them by Charles Sturt. It’s important to note that your child must fill in this form and submit it to Charles Sturt before the census date.

How to repay a HECS-HELP loan

Your child will repay their HECS-HELP loan through the tax system once they start to earn above the compulsory repayment threshold.

So, for example, if your child had graduated in 2022 and was earning less than $47,014, their HECS repayments will be nil. The threshold will vary from year to year, so it’s best to refer to the Study Assist website.

Other financial support

There are plenty of options for your child to get additional help with costs. One of the best ways to boost your child’s finances and make the most of uni is to apply for a scholarship with Charles Sturt.

There is a broad range of scholarships on offer each year. And we offer more than $3 million in scholarships and grants to students just like your child. Students who want to make the world a better place in a career they’re passionate about. So, sit down with your child and search our scholarships to help make the cost of study easier.

Have your questions answered

Want to learn more about HECS, help with costs or the application process? Get in touch for a chat.