February 28, 2018

IRU submission to Senate Inquiry on HELP reforms

The IRU has made a written submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment (Student Loan Sustainability) Bill 2018.

The Bill proposes four changes to the Higher Education Loans Program (HELP), of which the lower first repayment threshold and the inclusion of HECS-HELP within a lifelong loan cap are the most significant for the Committee to consider.

The key points made by the IRU in its submission are that it:

1. supports the revamp of the HELP repayment thresholds to have a regular sequence of increases tied to steps up in the proportion of income to be paid

2. accepts that the revised first threshold of $45,000 reduces the negative impact likely from the previously proposed $42,000 threshold sufficient to allow the amendment to be passed

3. recommends raising the lower HELP life time limit by $25,000 to $129,440 to match the increase for the upper life time limit that applies for medical, dentistry and veterinary courses

4. recommends that the ongoing rationale for the HELP limit not be renewed as payments are made be reconsidered

5. supports the change of index for HELP thresholds

6. supports the changes to the Student Financial Supplement Scheme repayment arrangements.

Read the full IRU submission (PDF)