There have been 2 changes in regards to HECS recently.

1. Legislation has passed parliament which removes the HECS-HELP up-front payment discount. Currently, a 10 per cent discount is applied to up-front student contribution payments of $500 or more. The amount of the discount is paid by the Government to the student’s higher education provider. As a result of these amendments, a person will not receive the HECS-HELP up-front payment discount for a payment made in relation to a unit of study with a census date on or after 1 January 2017.

The legislation also removes the HELP voluntary repayment bonus. The voluntary repayment bonus currently reduces a person’s HELP debt by an additional 5 per cent of the payment amount when the person makes a voluntary repayment of $500 or more. As a result of these amendments, a person will not receive the HELP voluntary repayment bonus for voluntary payments made on or after 1 January 2017.

2. The passing of the HELP Overseas Recovery Bill creates an obligation for taxpayers living overseas to make repayments on their HELP debts based on their total Australian and foreign-sourced income, known as their worldwide income.

This will be imposed as a levy. From 1 January 2016, debtors going overseas for more than six months (183 days) will be required to register with the ATO, while those already living overseas will have until 1 July 2017 to register. Repayment obligations will commence from 1 July 2017, for income earned in the 2016/17 year.