Benefits for graduates in high-need occupations
1 December 2012
The Federal Government is encouraging graduates of specified courses to take up employment in occupations identified as areas of need, by reducing compulsory HELP repayments by up to $1,744 per year.
Graduates of early childhood education, maths and science, education and nursing courses are eligible to apply for the HECS-HELP Benefit.
In the case of early childhood teachers, the location of employment is also specified and must be in a regional or remote area, an Indigenous Australian community or an area of high socio-economic disadvantage.
About the benefit
The benefit is not a cash payment, it reduces the compulsory HELP repayments on the income tax assessments of eligible graduates. The maximum annual benefit amounts are indexed each year.
For the 2011-12 income year the maximum amount claimable is:
- $1,744.81 for early childhood education graduates
- $1,635.75 for maths, science, education and nursing (including midwifery)
To be eligible, a graduate of one of the specified courses must:
- Have a HELP debt that relates to the course in the income year for which the benefit is being applied, and
- Must be required to make a compulsory HELP repayment in the income year for which the benefit is being applied (this is not a requirement for early childhood educators).
Graduates may apply for the benefit annually after the income year (1 July to 30 June) has ended. There is a total maximum lifetime claim of 260 weeks.
Expanded benefit for Early Childhood Education (ECE) Teachers
The benefit for ECE teachers was expanded from the 2011-12 income year (available from 1 July 2012). The expansion provides for:
- An increase in the number of eligible postcode locations in rural and remote areas, including regional cities (this will allow more ECE teachers working in areas of high need to apply), and
- The removal of the requirement that teachers spend 50% of their time teaching.
This means qualified early childhood education teachers will be able to claim the HECS-HELP benefit as long as they spend some of their employed time providing:
- Education or childcare services to children who have yet to commence formal schooling and / or
- Educational support to staff who teach those children.
For more information about the HECS-HELP Benefit please ask your Boyce Accountant or visit the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website at www.ato.gov.au and click through the tabs – Individuals / Higher education loan scheme essentials / basic topics / HECS-HELP Benefit.
Source: Australian Taxation Office