Eligible students who do not wish to pay the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) upfront can request Commonwealth assistance and defer the fee through an element of the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) known as SA-HELP. Eligible students can choose to pay some of the fee upfront and obtain an SA-HELP loan for the remainder or obtain a loan for the full amount of the fee.
You can take out a SA‑HELP loan even if you do not wish to take out any other HELP loan. If you use SA‑HELP, the loan amount will be added to your accumulated HELP debt.
To be eligible for a SA‑HELP loan, you need to:
- be an Australian citizen or holder of a permanent humanitarian visa who is residing in Australia;
- be a New Zealand Special Category Visa holder who meets the long-term residency requirements;
- be enrolled in an eligible course of study with a higher education provider;
- meet the tax file number (TFN) requirements (if your information is not assessed as correct by the ATO, your application will not be finalised and you will be ineligible for a SA-HELP loan); and
- Apply for SA-HELP via the Government eCAF portal by the applicable census date
For more information regarding SA-HELP including eligibility and residency requirements please read the SA-HELP Information booklet, available on the Study Assist publications page.
Applying for SA-HELP
To apply for SA-HELP you must complete an online Request for SAHELP assistance form (eCAF) by the due date of the SSAF that you are wanting to defer. If your form is not submitted by the SSAF due date you will not be entitled to a SAHELP loan for that semester.
If you are eligible for a Commonwealth supported place you will be sent an email which contains the information you require to log in and complete your eCAF.
- Find your Passkey in the email you received from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Go to the Government eCAF portal and login using your Passkey and date of birth.
- Follow the prompts, answer all questions and provide your Tax File Number (TFN), USI (Unique Student Identifier)
- Click Submit Form to accept your Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) and apply for SA-HELP
- Ensure that this form is submitted prior to your first census date
- Please note that your eCAF will expire within 12 weeks so please complete this as soon as possible.
If you need assistance regarding completing your eCAF, or have any questions please submit an online enquiry via the FRED portal
You will only be required to apply for SAHELP assistance once for your program of study. If you change programs you must complete a new online SAHELP form.
You will be issued with a Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN) for each enrolled semester. This will detail any SSAF amount which has deferred via SA-HELP to the ATO.
Combined HELP Loan Limit
From 1 January 2020 the Australian Government have introduced the combined HELP loan limit. This limit is a cap on what you can borrow from the Australian Government to cover the costs of your tuition fees. The HELP loan limit will replace the current FEE-HELP limit and will include HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP and VET Students Loans.
Any previous HECS-HELP debts will not be included in the HELP loan limit, however, from 1 January 2020 onwards, new HECS-HELP borrowing will count towards the limit. All other HELP debts will be combined on 1 January 2020 and make up your initial balance.
For 2022, the HELP loan limit is $109,206* for most students. The limit for students studying medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses leading to initial registration will be $156,847*.
You can check you HELP balance on myHELPbalance
To check your balance you need to know your Commonwealth higher education student support number (CHESSN). A CHESSN is a unique identifying number. It is important that you only have one CHESSN.
Please note, there is a time lag between census date and when your information on myHELPbalance is updated, so to work out your current balance you may need to add any units you have recently enrolled/are currently enrolled in to the total shown on myHELPbalance.
Renewable HELP Balance
The HELP limit is renewable, meaning any compulsory or voluntary repayments made to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) starting from the 2019-20 income year will top up a person's HELP balance. These repayments will be applied to a person's HELP balance from 1 July 2020 onwards. Repayments can be re-borrowed in the future, up to the current HELP loan limit.
For more information please go to studyassist.gov.au