Steps to take to get your student loan debts under control
Work out what you can afford to pay
If you’re struggling to pay back money you owe, the first thing to do is to work out what you can actually afford to pay by doing a simple budget. How to work out what you can afford to pay.
If you can afford to pay something
Start paying the amount you can afford and get in touch with your creditor straight away to put a repayment agreement in place.
If you can’t afford to pay anything
Call us on 1800 007 007 straight away for advice.
Make a repayment arrangement with the ATO
Call the ATO’s individual tax self-help line on 13 72 26 and make an arrangement to pay.
If the payment amounts you can reasonably afford are quite low, you’ll need to go through the ATO’s hardship department to arrange payment. Refer to Tax debts for the process.
The ATO will send you a sheet of payment slips to use once you agree on an amount. Note that you’ll usually be charged interest on the overdue amount of your HECS-HELP debt while you’re paying it off.
- When you can, make voluntary payments to reduce your debt more quickly
- You can make voluntary payments even when you are overseas
- People who have incurred a VET FEE-HELP debt (now called VET Student Loans) because of inappropriate behaviour by some VET FEE-HELP providers have access to new remedies from 1 January 2019. Debts can be waived if the conduct of the provider was inappropriate. If you believe you have incurred a VET FEE-HELP debt inappropriately, make a complaint to the VET Student Loans Ombudsman. For more information, see the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s VET Student Loans page.
Ask if you can defer your HECS-HELP payment
You may apply to defer your compulsory repayment if:
- Making your compulsory repayment would cause you serious hardship (which means you can’t afford to provide food and accommodation for yourself or your dependants)
- There are other special reasons why you can’t make a compulsory repayment, such as a death in your family, a natural disaster or travel reasons
Speak to one of our financial counsellors
If your problem still hasn’t been solved, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, call us on 1800 007 007 to speak with one of our financial counsellors.
Repaying HECS-HELP debts
What if I get seriously ill or have other 'special circumstances' and can no longer study?
If you have successfully completed a unit of study you will have to pay the HELP debt for each unit completed. If you did not successfully complete, or withdrew from, a unit of study after the HELP census date due to serious illness or other ‘’special circumstances’’, then you may be able to get that debt cancelled. For more information see cancelling HELP debt under special circumstances.
What is the minimum payment threshold?Refer to the ATO's repayment thresholds.
Refer to the ATO’s repayment thresholds.
What happens if I go and live overseas?
When you go to live in another country, your HECS-HELP debt still exists. If your income is over the relevant threshold you still need to make repayments to your HECS-HELP debt each financial year. For information on this from the ATO see Overseas Obligations.
Will my loan be charged interest?
No, your HECS-HELP debt will not be charged interest. It will be indexed against the Consumer Price Index (CPI) each year. This means your debt will keep its real value.
What happens if I change my mind and no longer want to study?
If you change your mind, you’ll still have to pay your HECS-HELP debt.