The Higher Education Reform Package


Improving the sustainability of higher education

Changes to the repayment thresholds for the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)

What is the Australian Government doing?

The Government is introducing new repayment thresholds and rates from 1 July 2018 to improve the sustainability of the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP).

Under the new system, the minimum HELP repayment threshold will be $45,000 with a one per cent repayment income (or less than $9 per week), while the second threshold will be $51,957 with a two per cent repayment rate on repayment income. The new maximum threshold will be $131, 989 where the repayment rate will be 10 per cent.

From 1 July 2019, all HELP repayment thresholds will be indexed at consumer price index (CPI) instead of average weekly earnings.

The table below sets out the repayment rates and thresholds:

Repayment Rates New 2018-2019 thresholds
1.00% $45,000
2.00% $51,957
2.50% $55,074
3.00% $58,379
3.50% $61,882
4.00% $65,595
4.50% $69,530
5.00% $73,702
5.50% $78,124
6.00% $82,812
6.50% $87,780
7.00% $93,047
7.50% $98,630
8.00% $104,548
8.50% $110,821
9.00% $117,470
9.50% $124,518
10.00% $131,989

Why it is important?

HELP repayments have not kept pace with the HELP-lending growth-rate.  Taxpayer-funded student loans stand at more than $50 billion, with around a quarter of new loans expected to go unpaid unless policy settings change.

These reforms are necessary to ensure Australia’s generous, income-contingent loan system remains sustainable so future generations of Australians, regardless of their background or their financial means, can continue to access higher education without upfront fees.

The relatively low repayment rates will maintain the principle that graduates should repay their debts if and when they can afford to do so.

Indexing HELP repayment thresholds at CPI will maintain the value of the thresholds by increasing them in line with consumer prices rather than average wages.  With average weekly earnings typically higher than CPI, this measure will slow the growth of repayment thresholds and ensure they remain appropriate when compared to an individual’s capacity to repay.

Who does this affect?

This measure will affect all current and future HELP debtors.

Need more information?

  • Providers can visit the department’s higher education reform page for more information, where a range of provider-focussed FAQs are also available.
  • Students can visit the Study Assist website for more information, where a range of student-focussed FAQs are also available.


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