33. SA-HELP

33.1 - What is SA-HELP?

SA-HELP provides eligible students with a loan to cover a student services and amenities fee imposed on them by their providers. A provider who chooses to charge a student services and amenities fee must set a date by which the fee is payable. The day immediately after this date is when a student using SA-HELP will incur a debt for deferring the fee.

Students who wish to obtain SA-HELP for all or part of a student services and amenities fee imposed on them by their provider, must meet the TFN requirements and other eligibility requirements on or before the date the debt is incurred in order to be eligible.

33.2 - SA-HELP eligibility

To be eligible for SA-HELP for a student services and amenities fee, the student must:

  • be either an Australian citizen or a New Zealand Special Category Visa (NZ SCV) holder who meets certain arrival and long-term residency requirements (see Appendix E); or a permanent humanitarian visa holder who will be resident in Australia for the duration of the unit (part 28.3) [HESA section 126-5(1A)]
  • be enrolled in a course of study or a bridging course for overseas-trained professionals
  • meet the TFN requirements (see part 34) [HESA section 187-1]; and
  • have completed, signed and given to an appropriate officer of the provider a CAF on or before the date the debt is incurred for the fee set by the provider.

A holder of a permanent humanitarian visa will not satisfy the citizenship or residency requirements if the provider reasonably expects the student will not undertake in Australia any units of study with the provider [HESA subsection 126-5(2)].

New Zealand citizenship

From 1 January 2016, certain New Zealand Special Category Visa (SCV) holders have been eligible for HELP loans. New Zealand SCV holders will be eligible for a HELP loan if they:

  • hold a current SCV under the Migration Act 1958
  • first began to be usually resident in Australia at least 10 years ago as a dependent child aged under 18 years
  • have been physically present in Australia for at least eight out of the past 10 years (meaning they first arrived at least 10 years ago as a dependent minor), and 18 months out of the past two years; and
  • meet the other eligibility criteria for a HELP loan under HESA.

For further information, see Appendix E.

33.3 - SA-HELP for cross-institutional enrolments

To be eligible for SA-HELP a student must be enrolled in a course of study at the provider at which the fee is being imposed.

Students who are enrolled cross-institutionally – that is, they are enrolled in a course of study at their home provider but are undertaking a unit or a set of units at a host provider – will only be eligible for SA-HELP at the home provider. This applies even if the units of study they are undertaking at the host provider form part of the course of study they are undertaking at the home provider.

33.4 - Amount of SA-HELP

The amount of a student’s SA-HELP is equal to the unpaid portion of the student services and amenities fee on the date the debt is incurred.

33.5 - Paying SA-HELP

The Commonwealth will lend the student the amount of SA-HELP assistance they are entitled to, and pay the provider the amount lent in discharge of the student’s fee liability [HESA section 128-1].

33.6 - SA-HELP and the CAN

Providers must issue each student who has requested SA-HELP with a CAN (see part 11). The notice must be given to the student by the later of:

  • 28 days after the date the SA-HELP debt was incurred; or
  • the date on which the provider must give a CAN in relation to units of study that are Commonwealth supported, if any. This is provided that both the date the CAN must be given and the date the SA-HELP debt was incurred fall within one of the following two periods:
    • 1 January to 30 June; and
    • 1 July to 31 December [Administration Guidelines chapter 4].

33.7 - Incurring SA-HELP

A student is taken to incur their SA-HELP debt immediately after the day the student amenities fee is payable to the provider [HESA subsection 137-16(3)].

33.8 - Remitting SA-HELP

A SA-HELP debt can only be remitted in limited circumstances.

These circumstances arise when:

  • a provider imposes a student services and amenities fee on a person
  • the provider receives notice that the person does not have a tax file number; and 
  • at the end of 28 days after receiving this notice, the provider has not received a tax file number that it is satisfied is valid; and the person is eligible for SA-HELP.

If the above circumstances arise the provider must repay any amount paid to the Commonwealth to discharge the person’s liability. [HESA section 193-15].

33.9 - Repaying SA-HELP

A person’s SA-HELP debt is part of their accumulated HELP debt recorded through the ATO. People repay their accumulated HELP debt through the taxation system once their repayment income is above the minimum repayment threshold for compulsory repayments (see part 35).