The Turnbull Government’s plan for a more sustainable higher education student loans scheme has passed the Parliament, ensuring future generations have access to study opportunities at Australia’s world-class institutions.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the plan ensured Australia’s higher education loan system was accessible and sustainable.
“We’re delivering a record $17 billion in funding for higher education this year and setting the system up to ensure Australian students can continue to take advantage of one of the most generous student loan schemes in the world,” Minister Birmingham said.
“Under the changes, a student loan will still be one of the cheapest loans Australians can access and students still won’t have to pay a cent up-front.
“We’re also tackling record levels of student debt, which currently stands at a staggering $54 billion. Left unchecked these costs would spiral out of control and mean a quarter may never be repaid.
“With the average graduate starting salary around $60,000, Australian taxpayers rightly expect students to start repaying their loans proportionate to their incomes. Our plan means those repayments start at just $8 or $9 a week.
“By making loans replenishable we’re also rewarding borrowers who make repayments towards their HELP debt and ensuring students have the flexibility to return to study in order to retrain, change careers, or further specialise in their current profession.
“The Turnbull Government is delivering a stronger economy and bringing the budget back to surplus so we can guarantee essential services like higher education.”
The Turnbull Government’s changes mean:
- From 1 July 2019, there will be a new minimum repayment income threshold of $45,881 starting at one per cent for the repayment of HELP loans as well as other progressive repayment thresholds, with indexation aligned to the Consumer Price Index.
- Graduates earning a higher income will also repay their loans faster, with a new 10 per cent repayment rate starting at $134,573.
- From 1 January 2019, the FEE-HELP loan limit for fee-paying students studying medicine, dentistry and veterinary science courses will increase to $150,000. For all other fee-paying students the loan limit will be $104,440.
- From 1 January 2020, there will be a loan limit on how much students can borrow under HELP, including HECS-HELP– however these loan balances will be replenishable as students pay off their debts.
Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews said the Government had also backed changes to level the playing field for students studying at Table B higher education institutions.
“We’re abolishing the 25 per cent loan fee for students at private universities so everyone is treated equally no matter the university they choose for their studies,” Assistant Minister Andrews said.
“In my own electorate I’ve seen firsthand the great work that institutions like Bond University do and these changes cut costs for their students.”
Minister Birmingham said he thanked the respective minor party and independent parliamentarians for their constructive contributions to ensuring the future of Australia’s higher education system.
“Our plan for Australian higher education secures the future of our student loans scheme, boosts support for research, grows funding for our institutions at a more sustainable trajectory and links future growth to performance,” Minister Birmingham said.
“With the Labor Party yet to outline any higher education policies, Australians will look at their record of pledging $6.6 billion worth of cuts to the sector while in government and the $200 billion in higher taxes Bill Shorten would impose that would crush future employment opportunities for graduates.
“The changes backed by the Parliament will deliver a higher education system well-placed for the challenges of the future.”