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Australian Government Coat of Arms

Budget | 2015-16

Budget 2015-16
Australian Government Coat of Arms, Budget 2015-16

A fairer HELP scheme

A fairer Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP)

The Government is introducing arrangements to ensure a fairer HELP scheme by requiring Australians residing overseas to repay their HELP debts.

Currently, a banker, engineer or a nurse earning substantial income overseas does not have any legal obligation  to repay their HELP debts.

There is no good reason why Australians living overseas earning high incomes cannot pay back what they owe to Australia.

This change to HELP will impose  the same repayment obligations to Australians living overseas as currently apply to those who reside in Australia, ensuring fairer and more equitable arrangements.

Recovery of debts from people living overseas is already undertaken by some other countries, including the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Repayment obligations will be based on worldwide income

Only those graduates living overseas and earning incomes above the minimum HELP repayment threshold (A$53,345 in 2014–15)  will be required to make payments  towards  their HELP debts.

When do the new arrangements commence?

The new arrangements will apply from 1 January 2016 to both new and existing debts. From this date, debtors going overseas for more than six months will be required to register with the ATO, while those already overseas will have until 1 July 2017 to register. Repayment obligations will commence from 1 July 2017 (for income earned in the 2016–17  financial year).

Current HELP debt repayment arrangements are unfair: Australians that reside overseas and earn high incomes are not required to repay their debts

Two fictitious examples of Australians with accumulated HELP debt - one working overseas and one working in Australia