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A subsidy to study: an introduction to HECS‑HELP

This article appears in:
Study Tips, Future and Focus, Money and Study

Concerned about the cost of studying? Here’s what you need to know about getting a subsidy on your fees and minimising upfront costs.

A subsidy to study

In Australia there are two types of places at university; subsidised Commonwealth Supported Places (sometimes called CSPs) and fee paying places (which are not subsidised).

A Commonwealth Supported Place is where the total cost of your study is split into two parts: 

  1. the Australian Government pays one part — this is a subsidy 
  2. you pay the other part — this is called your student contribution

Am I eligible for a Commonwealth subsidy?

To be eligible for a subsidy on your fees, you must meet Australian Government citizenship and residency requirements.

I do. So how do I apply for the subsidy? 

After you have applied to your university if you receive an offer to study which will include a link to the Request for Commonwealth assistance form. You complete this form to accept your offer and apply for a Commonwealth Support Place.

If you are also applying for the Higher Education Loan Program (see below), you can do this using the same form.  Make sure you submit the form to your university and finalise payment for your student contributions (either by paying upfront or through HELP) by the census date. 

Ok, but what about the student contributions… how much will I have to pay after the subsidy?

Different fields of study are grouped into 3 student contribution bands and a fee range is set for each band.

In 2017, depending on what you study and the associated student contribution range, you would expect to pay a maximum of $6,349 for units in fields such as humanities, education, clinical psychology, visual and performing arts and nursing; $9,050 for units in computing, engineering or science fields; and $10,596 for units in law, accounting, medicine or commerce.

To get an indication of your course cost for 2017, check the "student contribution bands" on the Study Assist website.

I don’t have that just sitting in my bank account!

Good news – you may not have to pay your tuition fees upfront; HELP can cover your course costs and you will repay the loan once you start earning above a certain threshold. You can apply for a HELP loan at the same time as you accept your offer of enrolment and apply for your Commonwealth Supported Place. You will need to complete this before the census date, provide your Tax File Number, and meet the citizenship and residency requirements.


Your desire to study doesn’t have to be held back because you think you can’t afford it. Find out more about HELP on the Study Assist website




This article appears in:
Study Tips, Future and Focus, Money and Study

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