The Commonwealth government offers assistance to eligible students to finance their tuition fees at university. You will be offered either a Commonwealth-Supported place or a Fee-Paying place in your chosen course.
The Government administers several HELP loans schemes to assist students with the cost of their tuition. The right loan for you will depend on your circumstances and eligibility.
- HECS-HELP is a loan program to HELP eligible Commonwealth supported students to pay their student contribution amounts. Before 2005, this was known as ‘HECS’.
- FEE-HELP is a loan program to HELP eligible fee paying students to pay their tuition fees.
- SA-HELP is a loan scheme that assists eligible students to pay for all or part of their student services and amenities fee.
Please go to Study Assist for the most comprehensive information about HELP loans by the Australian Government.
Your Tax File Number
You must have a Tax File Number (TFN) before you can apply for Commonwealth Assistance. It takes about 28 days for a TFN to be issued.
If you don't have a TFN
How you apply for a TFN depends on your circumstances, see more information on the Australian Tax office website.
Your Unique Student Identifier (USI)
You must supply your Unique Student Identifier (USI) to the University. You can supply your USI as part of the eCAF or via the USI Stand Alone Form.
Changes to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) means it is now compulsory for students commencing study from 1 January 2021 to apply for and obtain a Unique Student Identifier (USI) to be eligible for a Commonwealth supported place and Commonwealth financial assistance.
What is a USI?
A USI is a reference number made up of a combination of ten numbers and letters. The USI is used to connect your Commonwealth supported loan information to your details. Providing your USI to your university is a Federal Government requirement.
How do I get a USI?
If you have undertaken any training since 2015, you may already have a USI. If you need to apply for one, it will only take a few minutes.
Commonwealth Supported students
All commonwealth supported students must submit an electronic Commonwealth Assistance Form (eCAF) to indicate how you will pay your student contribution amount. This is so we know whether you wish to pay up-front or defer your liability through HECS-HELP.
The form is a legal document. It requires you to declare that you have read the booklet, and that you are aware of your obligations as a Commonwealth Supported student.
If you do not submit the form by the census date then your enrolment as a Commonwealth supported student will be cancelled.
Please note that students who are New Zealand citizens and Permanent visa holders are not eligible for HECS-HELP assistance and are required to pay their student contribution upfront to the university without the discount by the census date.
Paying your HECS-HELP student contribution
Under HECS-HELP, there are 3 ways of paying your Student Contribution:
- Make a full up front payment to Charles Sturt University.
- Eligible students can pay part of their contribution upfront and take out a HECS-HELP loan for the remaining amount, with the remainder of your student contribution being deferred to be repaid through the taxation system.
- Eligible students can defer their full contribution and repay it through the taxation system.
If you want Commonwealth Assistance for the payment of your tuition fees, you will be deferring your liability through FEE-HELP to pay through the taxation system.
To defer your tuition fees:
If you have not submitted an eCAF to seek Commonwealth Assistance, you must pay your fees directly to the University. You will receive an electronic invoice from CSU Finance prior to the start of each session, outlining the fees requiring payment. As a general rule, initial fees invoices will be issued three (3) weeks prior to the commencement of each study session, with the following two exceptions:
- Term 2 (session code ending in 15 that starts in early January) will issue 1 week prior to the commencement of session
- Session 2 (session code ending in 60 that starts in early July) will also issue 1 week prior to the commencement of session
Paying your FEE-HELP student contribution
You have to start repaying your HELP debt through the taxation system once your repayment income is above the compulsory repayment threshold, even if you are still studying. You can make voluntary repayments to the ATO at any time. Go to HELP Loan Repayments for more information about repaying your FEE-HELP debt.
Student Services & Amenities Fee (SSAF)
The SSAF provides universities with the means to maintain and enhance services and amenities that support a wide range of student needs. Most CSU students are liable for SSAF, go to SSAF at CSU for more information. If you are liable for SSAF, it must be paid upfront before Census date or deferred through SA-HELP.
To defer your SSAF liability through SA-HELP:
Before the Census date of each session, you will be notified of your student contribution amount for each session of enrolment on the "pre-census HECS Notice". This notice is sent to you. This notice is not a request for payment.
This Notice records:
- your enrolment for that session,
- chosen HECS or FEE-HELP option,
- the banding and cost of each subject
It will also include how to pay upfront, if that is the option you have chosen and how much will be deferred to the Australian Taxation Office if you have nominated to defer some or all of your student contribution. Go to Pre-census Notice for more information.
Commonwealth Assistance Notice
After Census date each session you will also receive a Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN). A Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN) is not an invoice. It is a notice issued each study period after the census date to students who are using Australian Government assistance. For example, it is helpful for students to keep track of their FEE-HELP balance if they are studying in a fee paying place. Go to CAN for more information.
Census Date is the date on which the university takes a snapshot of enrolments. Your enrolment as at Census will determine your HECS or Fee liability for that session.
The census date is the deadline for various requirements, including submitting your Request for Commonwealth assistance form for a HELP loan. If you miss the census date, you will not be eligible to access a Commonwealth supported place or a HELP loan. The census date is also the deadline for withdrawing from your study without incurring the full cost of your units or a HELP debt.