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Commonwealth supported places and HECS-HELP

Defer the costs of study through HECS-HELP

If you’re a domestic undergraduate student studying an award course, the Australian Government will subsidise your tuition fees.

All domestic undergraduate students studying award courses and some postgraduate coursework students are automatically offered a Commonwealth supported place when they apply to the University. This means the Australian Government subsidises your course fees.

The remainder of your fees is called a student contribution.

Most Commonwealth supported students are eligible for HECS-HELP assistance. This means you can defer all or part of your student contribution by obtaining a HECS-HELP loan.

From 1 January 2017, changes to Australian Government legislation came into effect, removing the 10% HECS-HELP discount on any upfront payments made to the University and the 5% bonus for voluntary payments of a HELP debt to the Australian Taxation Office.

Understand HECS-HELP


When you successfully apply for a full HECS-HELP loan, the Australian Government will pay your student contribution amount. You will then repay this amount through the Australian Taxation Office once you meet a certain salary threshold.

When completing your application for government assistance, you need to supply your Tax File Number before the relevant census date, otherwise your enrolment could be cancelled. Apply for a TFN online now.

Interest is not payable on your HECS-HELP debt, but the amount will be indexed each year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index, to retain its current market value. This is done annually on 1 June to the portion of debt that has been unpaid for 11 months or more.

If you’re eligible for HECS-HELP,  you can still choose to pay your student contribution upfront (partially or in full). Any unpaid student contribution amount after the census date has passed will be deferred automatically as a HECS-HELP loan, provided you have supplied your TFN when completing your application for government assistance.

You can access your financial statement or make a payment online through Sydney Student (go to ‘My finances’, ‘Your finances’, then ‘View financial statements’).

Upfront payments

If you are not eligible for HECS-HELP, you are required to pay your student contribution upfront. As a Commonwealth supported student, you are still required to complete and submit a Request for Commonwealth support and HECS-HELP form on or before the relevant census date.

Please note, a surcharge of 0.8% will apply for payments made by Visa or MasterCard. The surcharge is subject to review and may change. See the FAQs for information about alternative payment methods.

Australian citizens, Australian permanent humanitarian visa holders and New Zealand citizens who meet the eligibility criteria under the Higher Education Support Act (2003) will be able to access HECS-HELP assistance.

However, eligibility criteria and legislation around HECS-HELP can change, so it’s best to check the information provided by Study Assist.

The Australian Government recently passed legislation permitting eligible New Zealand citizens to access HELP assistance.


If you’re a New Zealand citizen who also holds a current Special Category Visa (SCV) and meets all the following criteria, you may be eligible for HELP assistance:

  • you first entered Australia as a child under 18 years of age and at that time did not have a spouse or de facto partner; and
  • you meet the following residency requirements:
    • first started to generally live and reside in Australia at least 10 years before the first day you successfully applied for a HELP loan; and
    • have been in Australia for at least: 
      • a total of 8 years out of the 10 years immediately before the first day you successfully applied for a HELP loan; and
      • a total of 18 months out of the 2 years immediately before the first day you successfully applied for a HELP loan; and
  • you meet the other eligibility criteria for HELP assistance under the Higher Education Support Act (2003).
How to apply

You will need to visit the Student Centre prior to the relevant census date/s and complete the required HELP assistance form.

You will also need to provide, along with your tax file number, originals or certified copies of the following documents.

  • Your passport
  • Evidence that you first began residing in Australia as a minor at least 10 years immediately before applying for HELP assistance.

Below are some examples of accepted proof:

  • international movement records from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection
  • stamped passport
  • school reports and certificates
  • Australian Student ID card or concession card
  • payslips or payment summaries from when you a minor.

These documents need to be submitted by the relevant census date or you will not be eligible for HELP assistance. If you are overseas at the time of enrolment you will not yet have a valid SCV so you will need to wait until you return to Australia to complete the HELP form.

Please note, if you are a New Zealand citizen and hold an Australian permanent resident visa you will no longer have a valid SCV and so will not be eligible for HELP.

However you choose to pay your student contribution, if you are enrolling in a Commonwealth supported place you need to complete and submit a Request for Commonwealth support and HECS-HELP form on or before the relevant census date. If you don’t submit this form, your enrolment as a Commonwealth supported student will be cancelled.

Most Commonwealth assistance forms are provided to you during the online enrolment process. You can also access these forms through Sydney Student (go to 'My finance', 'Your finances', then 'Government forms').

The Australian Government sets a range that can be charged for areas of study by grouping them into 'Bands'. Higher education providers then set the student contribution amount for each unit of study within this range.

Find out more about student contribution rates.

Commonwealth Supported Places for postgraduate courses

Some of our postgraduate degrees offer a limited number of Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) based on merit. You will automatically be assessed when you apply for a place in the course and your letter of offer will advise if you have been offered a Commonwealth Supported Place or full fee paying place. 

Commonwealth Supported Places are currently available in the following postgraduate courses for 2017. 

For exact course application closing dates and a complete list of courses with CSPs available search for your course at Sydney Courses.

Eligible postgraduate courses