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How do I pay for my studies in Australia?

Source: Creative Commons

The Australian government offers different types of loans to assist university students with their fees.

In Australia, a three-year undergraduate degree costs a lot of money - easily $32,000 - which means that most students take out a loan to pay for their study.

University students are offered either a Commonwealth supported place or a fee-paying place.

Commonwealth supported places

Commonwealth supported places (CSP) are subsidised by the government, meaning that the course will be cheaper than a full-fee course. They are mostly offered at public universities for undergraduate degrees. The money is not a loan and will be paid directly to the university.

As a student, you’ll need to contribute by paying the remainder of the fee to your university.

To find out if you’re eligible for a CSP, visit the Study Assist website.

The Higher Education Loan Program

The Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) consists of four loan schemes for university students. They are available to Australian citizens, permanent humanitarian visa holders and New Zealand Special Category Visa holders who meet the long-term residency requirements.


This is the most popular loan scheme. Under it, eligible students enrolled in a Commonwealth-supported place, can borrow money to pay for their study.

"Virtually all undergraduates in Australia universities are eligible for HECS-HELP, which sort of permanent resident being the only major exception. And of those who are eligible about 90 per cent take up their loan,” explains Andrew Norton, the Higher Education Program Director at the Grattan Institute.

“So this is by far the most popular kind of loan. And if you are an undergraduate it's pretty unlikely you'll have any loan except that."

Stock image of students walking at the University of Technology in Brisbane, Monday, April 14, 2014


It’s a loan to help eligible fee-paying students to pay their tuition fees. It mostly applies to post-graduate courses or courses in private higher education providers. The maximum FEE-HELP debt is generally $99,389.


This loan helps eligible students pay for all or part of their student services and amenities fee.


This loan is to assist eligible student pay for their overseas study expenses.

Students graduating university
CC0 Creative Commons

Paying back your HELP debt

Currently, people will start paying back their HELP debt once they make $55,874. From next financial year, the threshold will drop down to $51,957. The more money a person makes, the higher the repayment rate will be.

Up to the end of June, Australians with a HELP debt who lived overseas didn't have to pay it back while they lived outside Australia. But from this financial year, people will have to repay their HELP debt even if they're overseas, on the same basis as if they were in Australia.

To find out more about HELP and Commonwealth Supported Places, visit the Study Assist website

Youth Allowance

Young student can also receive ongoing payments to assist with the cost of living through Youth Allowance. It usually applies for Australians between 18 and 24-year-old, who are studying full-time and whose parents earn up to $150,000 (unless you’re considered independent). 

To find out more about Youth Allowance, which helps young students with the cost of living, visit the DHS website

Scholarships for asylum seekers and refugees

It can be very difficult for asylum seekers and refugees on temporary protection visas to afford an education without government support. This is why the Refugee Council has been working with universities to provide scholarships to help these people.

“What we know with so many refugees and so many other people who are seeking asylum, is that they're desperate to start their lives. Education provides routine and it also provides opportunity. An opportunity to go on and get a better job and to contribute to their full potential. And also, importantly, to contribute to the Australian economy, what many refugees want to do," says Tim O'Connor from the Refugee Council.

14 Australian universities have such scholarships. 

If you’re an asylum seeker or a refugee on a temporary protection visa and want to find out about scholarships available to you, visit the Refugee Council website

International students

As an international student, the fee for higher studies in Australia will be higher than for residents. To find out more about fees, scholarships, entry requirements and student visas, visit the Study in Australia website