23. Student contribution amounts

23.1 - Student contribution requirements

A provider must require every student in a Commonwealth supported unit of study, who is not an exempt student (see part 13.1), to pay the student contribution amount for the unit. If a student is exempt, the provider cannot charge these students tuition fees for the unit, but may levy charges that are not considered to be fees [HESA subsections 169-15(1) and 93-5(1)] or are not otherwise prohibited by HESA (see part 25.1).

A provider may award students a scholarship to pay all or part of their student contribution. The value of approved scholarships is not included as income under income tests for social security payments, including Youth Allowance, Austudy, veteran affairs’ pensions and allowances [Social Security Act 1991 subsections 8(1), 8(8) and section 24A] or ABSTUDY [ABSTUDY Policy Manual section 59.5.3].

23.2 - Determining student contribution amounts

A provider must determine, for each Commonwealth supported unit of study it provides, or proposes to provide, one or more student contribution amounts for a place [HESA section 19-87]. This amount must be nil if the unit is part of an enabling course (see part 7.7) [HESA subsection 93-5(3)]. Providers may determine multiple student contribution amounts for a unit of study to apply to different categories of students [HESA subsection 19‑87(2)].

Determining multiple student contribution amounts

In determining multiple student contribution amounts for a unit of study, a provider may consider any matters they deem appropriate, other than matters specified in the Higher Education Provider Guidelines. The matters specified in the Guidelines include the manner or timing of payment of the student contribution amount, whether the payment is made by the student or the Commonwealth. That is, they must not take into account whether the payment is made:

  • upfront by the student
  • through HECS-HELP
  • with a scholarship; or
  • by partial payments [HESA subsection 19-87(2A) and HEP Guidelines paragraph 5.15.1].

Example

  • A provider determines the student contribution amount for a place in Maths 010 generally to be $8,363 for one EFTSL in 2019.
  • The provider determines that for students undertaking Maths 010 by distance education the student contribution amount will be $8,000.
  • The provider determines that for students with an educational disadvantage undertaking Maths 010 the student contribution is $6,500.

In determining multiple student contribution amounts, a provider must treat fairly all of its students and all persons seeking to enrol with the provider [HESA section 19-30].

Charging and publishing student contribution amounts

Providers must charge students must be charged the student contribution amount determined by the provider that is applicable to them.

The student contribution amounts determined by the provider must be published (see part 37.1) with sufficient information so that students are able to determine the student contribution amount that applies to them.

Relationship to funding clusters or disciplines

Providers should note that student contribution amounts are determined at the unit of study level. Units in the same CGS funding cluster may be subject to different maximum student contribution amounts. For further information on CGS funding clusters, see the department’s website.

23.3 - Maximum student contribution amounts

Providers must not charge student contribution amounts which exceed the maximum student contribution amount for the funding cluster, or part of a funding cluster, in which the unit is classified. See chapter 7 of the CGS Guidelines for information on allocating units of study to a funding cluster or part of a funding cluster. The maximum may also depend on whether a student is a pre-2010 student (see part 4).

The department publishes the maximum student contribution amounts for each category of students for a particular year..

This information is also published in the information booklets available on the Study Assist website.

23.4 - Calculating the student contribution amount for a unit of study

The student contribution amount for a unit ofstudy is calculated by multiplying the student contribution amount for a place the provider has set, and the EFTSL value of the unit (see part 9.1) [HESA subsection 93-5(1)].

If the amount worked out by this formula consists of dollars and cents, the amount must be rounded down to the nearest dollar [HESA subsection 93-5(4)].

A provider cannot charge a student contribution amount for a unit that is more than the maximum student contribution amount for that unit multiplied by the EFTSL value of the unit [HESA section 36-45].

Example

  • Susie has enrolled in Biology A01 as part of her Bachelor of Science. Her provider has set the student contribution amount for a place in that unit at $8,363. The EFTSL value for Biology A01 is 0.125. Therefore, Susie’s maximum student contribution amount for Biology A01 will be $8,363 X 0.125 = $1,045.

23.5 - Payment of student contribution amounts

How do students pay their student contribution amounts?

Provides should note that the manner in which a student pays their student contribution amount will depend on their citizenship and residency status.

Australian citizens, holders of permanent humanitarian visas, and certain long‑term New Zealand Special Category Visa holders

Australian citizens, permanent humanitarian visa holders, and certain long-term New Zealand Special Category Visa holders (see Appendix E) may be eligible for HECS‑HELP for their student contribution (see part 30.2) [HESA sections 90‑1 and 90-5]. HECS‑HELP provides eligible students with a loan to cover their student contribution.

Holders of other permanent visas and all other New Zealand citizens

If the holder of a permanent visa (other than the holder of a permanent humanitarian visa) or a New Zealand citizen who is not part of the long-term residency cohort (see Appendix E) has not paid their student contribution upfront and in full on or before the census date, the provider must cancel the person’s enrolment in the unit of study for which full payment has not been received [HESA subsection 36-40(2)].

Students in receipt of the ABSTUDY Living Allowance under master and doctorate awards

Providers should be aware that master students in receipt of the ABSTUDY Living Allowance under master and doctorate awards who are undertaking full-time postgraduate studies as a Commonwealth supported student, may apply to Centrelink for their student contributions to be paid under ABSTUDY. These students must choose the upfront payment option and provide Centrelink with a copy of their confirmation of enrolment notice to ensure that Centrelink pays the amount owing on or before the census date or the date set by the provider, if that precedes the census date.

23.6 - Students exempt from making a student contribution

A Commonwealth supported student is exempt from making a student contribution for a unit of study if:

  • the student has been awarded an exemption scholarship for the course of study to which the unit is contributing, and the provider awarded the scholarship in accordance with any applicable Administration Guidelines (see part 13.1) [HESA subsection 169-20(3)]; or
  • the unit consists wholly of WEI, which is not directed or supported by the provider (see part 14.1) [HESA subsection 169-20(2) and Administration Guidelines subchapter 5.5].

Students enrolled in enabling courses are not exempt students for the purposes of HESA, but their student contribution amount is set at zero dollars (see part 7.7).

23.7 - Tax deductibility of student contribution amounts

Student contribution amounts are not tax deductible, regardless of how the student pays the student contribution [Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 paragraphs 26-20(1)(ca)].

23.8 - Student withdrawal on or before the census date

A provider must require a Commonwealth supported student who enrols in a unit of study to pay their student contribution amount for that unit. If the student has made up-front payments in relation to that unit on or before the census date, and the student withdraws from the unit on or before the census date, the provider must repay those amounts to the student [HESA subsection 169-15(3)]. A student who withdraws from a unit on or before the census date does not incur a HECS-HELP debt in relation to that unit, whether or not the Commonwealth has made a payment in respect of the student’s student contribution amount for the unit [HESA subsection 137-5(3)].

23.9 - Student withdrawal after the census date

Students who withdraw from a unit after the census date may apply to have any up-front payments of their student contribution amount refunded in special circumstances (see part 42) [HESA sections 36-20 and 36-21]. If the provider is satisfied that special circumstances apply, the provider must repay any amount already paid to it by the Commonwealth in respect of the student’s contribution amount for the unit. The student’s HECS-HELP debt will be taken to be remitted if this occurs [HESA section 36-20].

23.10 - Unit cancellation after the census date

Where a unit ceases to be available after the census date, the provider should help the affected students to complete the unit or a comparable unit. In making these arrangements, the provider must treat students fairly [HESA section 19-30]. If arrangements cannot be made with which the student is satisfied, the provider should advise the student of their eligibility for re‑crediting and remission (see part 42.1) and, for students studying with non-Table A providers, their eligibility under the provider’s tuition assurance arrangements.

23.11 - Issuing the CAN

A provider must issue each of its Commonwealth supported students with a CAN (see part 11.1).