HECS-HELP is a loan scheme for eligible students enrolled in Commonwealth supported places to pay their student contribution amounts. It doesn’t extend to additional study costs such as accommodation or textbooks. To help you better understand how HECS-HELP affects you and your taxes, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to getting to know HECS-HELP.
WHAT IS HECS-HELP?
HECS-HELP is both a loan and a student discount. The Australian Government (through the HECS-HELP scheme) will pay course fees for For eligible students– .
If you pay your course fees upfront ($500 or more), you can use the scheme to receive a discount.
The Australian Government will pay the amount of your loan or discount directly to your education institution. Once your income reaches a certain threshold (currently $51,957 for the 2018-2019 financial year), loan repayments are then made through the tax system. If you wanted to pay off your debt faster, you can make voluntary repayments, regardless of how much you earn.
A HECS-HELP debt kicks off immediately after the elected 'census' date for any University course you’ve nominated to receive HELP assistance for.
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR HECS-HELP?
To qualify for HECS-HELP, you have to meet the following standards:
Be studying in a Commonwealth supported place;
Be an Australian citizen; or
Be a New Zealand Special Category Visa holder who meets the long-term residency requirements; or
Be a permanent humanitarian visa holder;
Be enrolled in each unit at your university by the census date;
Meet the relevant HECS-HELP residency requirements; and
Submit a valid request for Commonwealth support and HECS-HELP form by the census date (or earlier administrative date) to your university.
WHEN DO I HAVE TO REPAY MY HECS-HELP?
Your HECS-HELP debt repayments will take effect through your taxes once your income surpasses the compulsory repayment threshold, even if you’re still studying.
The minimum Help Repayment Income (HRI) thresholds change each year. To make your loan repayments for 2018-19, the threshold is set at $51,957. Where income exceeds this threshold, a compulsory repayment of at least 2% of your income takes effect as part of your tax assessment. The percentage increases in tandem with your income.
WHAT IS THE HECS-HELP REPAYMENT INCOME THRESHOLD?
Your HECS-HELP repayment income (HRI) differs from your taxable income. Calculate it like this:
Your taxable income for an income year, plus
Your total net investment losses, plus
Any total reportable fringe benefit amounts shown on your PAYG payment summary; plus
Reportable super contributions; and
Any exempt foreign employment income from the current income year.
When it comes to tax time, we will help you understand and calculate what your HRI threshold is.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR HECS-HELP DEBT BALANCET
There are three ways to check how much you owe on your HECS-HELP debt balance:
Contact the ATO on 13 28 61, and provide them with your TFN. This way, they can verify your personal details and tell you your HECS-HELP balance.
View your HECS-HELP balance online via the myGov site. If you link your account to the ATO, you’ll be able to see your balance online.
Call us and we can give you an instant update on your HECS-HELP balance and any other tax advice over the phone or in-person.
REPAYING YOUR HECS-HELP LOAN
Compulsory HECS-HELP Repayments
When you start a new job, make a note to let your employer know you’ve got a HECS-HELP debt. Just tick the box on your TAX DECLARATION FORM which you’ll need to fill out before you get to work.
Your employer will set aside additional tax from each pay to cover your estimated HECS-HELP debt based on your annual HRI. Keep in mind, your employer will withhold the additional tax based on the income they pay to you. They won’t factor in other income sources, previous jobs or investments. So, if you’ve got any of these sources of income, you’ll have to make a top-up payment once you lodge your tax return.
VOLUNTARY HECS-HELP REPAYMENTS
If you like to stay ahead, you can make voluntary repayments anytime to the ATO by BPAY or credit card. Visit the ATO’s website or our office for more information on how and when to make repayments.
TAX TIPS FOR REPAYING YOUR HECS-HELP DEBT
Upfront organisation will save you money and time. Keep all work-related receipts and claim deductions for everything you’re entitled to. This can reduce your HRI and minimise your compulsory annual repayment amount. Call or email us for advice on what you can claim to tax deductions.