Opinion Piece – Wiping $3 billion in HECS-HELP debt

The big hike in HECS-HELP debt last year hit a lot of Australians hard, in particular a lot of young Australians.

They’ve made their voice heard. The Albanese Labor Government has heard them and we’re acting.

This week’s Budget wipes out about $3 billion of HECS debt for more than three million Australians.

I asked the Universities Accord team to look at this issue, and they have recommended that we set indexation for HECS at either inflation or wages, whatever is the lowest.

We’re doing that, and we’re going further than that.

We’re going to backdate this to last year. In other words, we’re going to wipe out what happened last year and make sure it never happens again.

For someone with an average HECS debt of about $26,000, this means that their HECS debt will be cut by about by about $1,200.

For someone with an HECS debt of $45,000, it will mean that their HECS debt is cut by about $2,000.

This is an important reform that will make the HECS-HELP system fairer.

For the first time ever, the Australian Government will also now provide financial support to teaching, nursing and social work students, to help them while do their practical training in our schools and hospitals.

These are people who’ve signed up to do some of the most important jobs in this country and the Commonwealth Prac Payments will give them a bit of practical help.

These changes are just some of the ways Labor is tackling the cost of living and the cost of degrees.

We’re building a better and fairer education system to give more Australians the skills they need to get a job, to make more money and live a better life for themselves and their families.

That’s what this is all about.

Calculate your estimated HELP indexation credit by visiting https://www.education.gov.au/helpestimator.

This opinion piece was first published in the Examiner Newspaper, Launceston on Sunday 19 May 2024.