HELP!

Erm, so that we’re all on the same page here, we’re talking about the government’s Higher Education Loan Program, not one of The Beatles’ hit songs.

Now that that’s sorted, let’s investigate uni fees and how the HELP program can help you (so much dad-joke material here, we’re loving it).

HELP – known pre-2005 as HECS – assists eligible Commonwealth-supported students in paying their compulsory contribution amounts via a loan (read: you do have to pay it back!). The government basically pays your institution the tuition fees that you would normally have to pay, which can rack up to quite a lot. Oh, and if you can afford it, any up-front payments of $500 or more get a 10% discount on the amount paid.

Now, the scary part we know you’re all thinking… how the hell do you pay it all back?! Uni fees can really add up over the years, especially if you chop and change your majors or courses along the way, which does happen. The pay-back scheme kicks in once you start earning more than a certain amount each year. This figure changes annually, but for the financial year 2012-13, the compulsory repayment threshold is $49,095. In other words, once you start earning more than this annually you have to start paying it back; the exact percentage amount determined by your income bracket. Lost? See here for more details.

To find out if you’re eligible for a HELP loan, how to set it up, or for any other information visit Australian Government Study Assist, or the ATO website.

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