Student loan schemes help thousands go through uni every year, especially those who are unable to secure a place in Commonwealth-supported institutions through scholarships. Apart from student grants, which do not need reimbursement, student loans enable more of Australia's college-level youth gain a stake in life through rewarding careers.
The Commonwealth offers student loans under the Higher Education Loan Programmer (HELP), which charges a fee of 20% on the total loan's face value, payable through deductions under the tax return system or through voluntary payments.
The current system is a condensed version of earlier separate programs for open learners, post-graduate courses, and overseas training bridging.
The maximum student loan amount is $100,000 for medicine and technical science courses, and $80,000 for others, subject to upward adjustments for inflation.
A variant called OS-HELP is for students who wish to undertake learning overseas for a maximum tour of six months. The maximum loan amount is two tranches of $5,000 each.
Repaying the HELP loans is indexed to the CPI or the Consumer Price Index, and the amount due is calculated by year and semester. Voluntary repayments will earn a 10% bonus deduction, for payments over $500. this means $900 paid off will take away $990 on the debt. Still, compulsory payments are mandated every year, so it's best to time voluntary repayments in total, for the whole loan, before filing tax returns.Still, even if one pays only what is due every tax season, it can be a good deal as the HELP loan has got to be one of the cheapest around.
HELP student loans are non-transferable, and terminate naturally with a debtor's demise.
Repayments for HELP student loans are calculated by the Australian Taxation Office, and compulsory payments are triggered by the debtor's income threshhold. The most recent figure stands at $41,595 for 2009, measured against the person's qualified income, a.k.a the HELP Repayment Income. Repayment figures are calculated by percentages on the whole loan. Repayment rates start at 4% at the $41.545 level, and rise up to 8%, with a natural limit set at the total balance of the debt owed.