New law to recover HELP and TSL debts from overseas Australians

Monday 9 November 2015


Australians living overseas who have a Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debt or Trade Support Loan (TSL) will have the same repayment obligations as people living in Australia, following the passage through Parliament of overseas debt recovery legislation.

Until now, people who took out a HELP or TSL loan and moved overseas were under no obligation to repay their debt as long as they remained offshore residents. Now, anyone who has a HELP or TSL debt, who earns above the minimum repayment threshold ($54,126 in 2015-16), will repay their debt regardless of where they live.

What does this mean?

  • From 1 January 2016, people with HELP and TSL debts who move overseas for six months or more will be required to notify the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
  • From 1 July 2017, people with HELP or TSL debts who are non-residents for tax purposes will be required to assess their total Australian and foreign-sourced income in order to make income contingent repayments. This will start from the 2016 17 financial year.

People with a current HELP or TSL debt (including those who have already graduated from study but are still paying off their debt) need to register for a myGov account and link their account to the ATO. From 1 July 2017, people overseas will use their myGov account to lodge an assessment of their world-wide income.

For more information about HELP, visit the Study Assist website. Information about TSL can be found on the Trade Support Loans page.