Real ways to study now, and pay later

Thinking of studying at TAFE or university but worried that you can’t afford it? While there’s no denying how expensive tertiary education can be, there’s also no denying it has a huge effect on your earning potential and employability. And if you’re an Australian citizen or resident you could be eligible for a number of financial assistance schemes that will help you with your study expenses.

Whether you’re looking at a bachelor degree, a certificate or diploma, want to complete a postgraduate degree at university or you’re just getting started with your first apprenticeship, there are options that allow you to study now and pay later.

But before you start to think we’re about to sell you a high-interest credit card, let’s set the record straight: even if we wanted to, we wouldn’t have to. Australia’s student loans are low-interest and only need to be paid back once you earn enough to afford it – so there’s no anxiety about your card being repossessed!

So how do you know what you’re eligible for? How much can you borrow? What are the repayments like? Take a look at the six areas of financial support below and you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Got a course in mind and want to see whether it’s supported by government loans? Take a look at our courses page and keep an eye out for HECS-HELP, VET-HELP and FEE-HELP icons, or just select ‘government support’ to refine your search to see which courses you can afford. 

Financial support information for tertiary study and apprenticeships

Government study loans

HECS-HELP

What is it? A low-interest government loan scheme that’ll help you pay part of your tuition fees for an undergraduate degree.
 
Eligibility
  • Australian citizen or resident
  • Enrolled in an undergraduate course with a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP)
 
Loan limit No limit
 
Interest/indexation
  • Currently: indexed according to the Consumer Price Index
  • 2016: Indexed according to treasury 10 year bond rate (to a max of 6 per cent per annum)
    *Subject to legislation being passed.
Fees No loan fees
 
Paying it back
  • Graduates currently need to start paying their loans back once they earn $53,345 per annum or more
  • From 2016, graduates will need to start making repayments through their tax when their income hits $50,638 per annum
    *Subject to legislation being passed.

FEE-HELP

What is it? A low-interest loan from the government that helps you to pay for all or part of your university fees. This loan only covers tuition, not associated study costs.

Ideal for when you’re paying full fees, such as postgraduate studies or when you aren’t able to get a Commonwealth Supported Place for your undergraduate studies.
 
Eligibility
  • Australian citizen or resident
  • Studying at an approved FEE-HELP provider
  • Completing a postgraduate degree OR approved undergraduate degree
Loan limit
  • The overall FEE-HELP limit is currently $96,000 for your lifetime
    OR
    $120,000 if you’re studying medicine, dentistry or veterinary science
  • From 2016 there will be no loan limit
    * Subject to legislation being passed
Interest
  • Currently: indexed according to the Consumer Price Index
  • 2016: Indexed according to treasury 10 year bond rate (to a max of 6 per cent per annum) *Subject to legislation being passed.
Fees
  • There is a loan fee of 25 per cent if your FEE-HELP loan is for undergraduate courses
  • This loan fee will be removed in 2016
Paying it back When your income hits $53,345 per annum you will need to start repaying your loan through your tax

 


VET FEE-HELP

What is it? A low-interest loan from the government that is used to pay all or part of your TAFE tuition fees, but doesn’t cover associated study costs such as accommodation or books.
 
Eligibility
  • Australian citizen or resident
  • Studying at an approved VET FEE-HELP provider, such as TAFE or an accredited private college
  • Completing a diploma, advanced diploma, vocational graduate certificate or vocational graduate diploma
    OR
  • Certificate IV in the following fields: aged care, disability, information technology networking, agriculture, travel and tourism
    *Only available between 2014 and 2016 as part of the government’s certificate IV trial.
Loan limit
  • The overall FEE-HELP limit is currently $96,000 for your lifetime
    OR
    $120,000 if you’re studying medicine, dentistry or veterinary science
  • From 2016 there will be no loan limit
    * Subject to legislation being passed
Interest
  • Currently: indexed according to the Consumer Price Index
  • 2016: Indexed according to treasury 10 year bond rate (to a max of 6 per cent per annum)
    *Subject to legislation being passed.
Fees
  • There is a loan fee of 25 per cent if your FEE-HELP loan is for undergraduate courses
  • This loan fee will be removed in 2016
Paying it back When your income hits $53,345 per annum you will need to start repaying your loan through your tax

 


Income Support

As a cash-strapped student or apprentice you could also be eligible for a range of income support options from Centrelink and other government bodies:

  • Youth Allowance: A regular payment for full-time students or apprentices aged between 16 and 24
  • ABSTUDY: Financial support for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students or apprentices
  • Austudy: Government welfare payments for full-time students or full-time apprentices aged 25 or over 
  • Support for Adult Australian Apprentices (SAAA): Financial assistance for apprentices aged 25 or over, designed to help cover the costs of living while on apprentice wages.

Other financial assistance

You may also be eligible for:

  • Fares Allowance: If you’re living away from home in order to study, then this allowance can help to cover the cost of travelling between your residence and place of study
  • Education Entry Payment: A payment of $208 paid annually to help with study costs for individuals on specific income supports
  • Child Care Benefit: If you have children who need childcare while you study then this financial benefit could help you to make ends meet



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