In addition to the HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP loan schemes, which can be used to defer the payment of tuition fees, higher education students also have access to the SA-HELP and OS-HELP loan schemes. These are designed to assist students with the additional costs incurred by student services and amenities fees and overseas study. They work in much the same way as the other HELP schemes, allowing students to defer the payment of these costs through the tax system until their earnings meet the minimum repayment threshold ($54,896 in 2016–17).
The SA-HELP loan scheme is designed to assist students to pay for their student services and amenities fee. This fee was introduced in 2012 and assists universities and other higher education providers to fund services and amenities of a non-academic nature, such as sporting and recreation facilities and career services. The SA-HELP loan scheme allows students to defer their fee, typically adding it to their accumulated HELP debt (either HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP), although students who have not chosen to take out a tuition-related HELP loan are still eligible to defer their services and amenities fee through SA-HELP.
To be eligible for the loan scheme, students must meet citizenship requirements, be enrolled in a course of study with an approved provider, meet tax file number (TFN) requirements and lodge a request for SA-HELP assistance before the institution’s census date.
In 2017, the maximum rate an institution can charge for the student services and amenities fee is $294 per calendar year. Institutions can set the fee to be charged at their discretion (as long as it is equal to or below the maximum) and may alter fees for certain student groups. For example, some may halve the fee for part-time students or offer fee remission to off-campus or postgraduate students. For more information about student services and amenities fees, contact the institutions you are considering.
If you choose to study overseas during your course, you may be eligible for the federal government’s OS-HELP loan scheme. This loan is available to undergraduate students who hold a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) and provides eligible students with a maximum of $6,567 per six-month study period (if you are not studying in Asia) or $7,880 if you are studying in Asia. A further $1,050 is available if you are studying an Asian language in preparation for studying in Asia. These payments are deferred until you are earning the repayment threshold.