does Australia run one of the most generous student loan schemes in the world?

does Australia run some of the beneficiant student loan schemes on the planet?

Australia runs some of the beneficiant student loan schemes on the planet. – Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham, talking with Sarah Dingle on ABC Radio National Breakfast, January 4, 2016.

When requested for information to assist the assertion, a spokesperson for the Department of Education and Training mentioned that

Compared to different student loan schemes, the income-contingent nature of each Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) loans Trade Support Loans (TSL) protects low revenue earners from making loan repayments they could not have the ability to afford. Australia’s student loan schemes permit deferment of compensation obligations in circumstances of maximum monetary hardship… During the lifetime of the loan Australian students pay no actual rate of interest.

You can learn the complete response right here.

Overall, it’s true that many options of Australia’s loan schemes for tuition charges make it extra beneficiant than most different international locations that cost for larger training. But from a student’s perspective, how beneficiant Australia is depends upon precisely which facet of the loan scheme you’re taking a look at.

This FactCheck will look at how Australia compares to different international locations in terms of:

  • the 2 key forms of student loan schemes on supply right here and abroad;
  • how beneficiant Australia’s scheme is in comparison with international locations with comparable schemes;
  • how a lot you must earn in several international locations earlier than loan repayments begin;
  • how a lot completely different governments internationally subsidise the price of larger training;
  • the rates of interest charged on student loans;
  • and eventually whether or not there are any international locations the place students don’t want a loan to get a level.
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The two key forms of student loans

Australia’s Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) lends students the price of their tertiary training charges, and requires compensation on an income-contingent foundation.

For 2015-16, compensation begins when HELP debtors attain an annual revenue of A$54,126. At that time, debtors repay 4% of their revenue.

Many different OECD international locations additionally supply public loans to students for larger training, often a mortgage-style loan. Under mortgage-style loans, repayments are required no matter revenue and don’t range with how a lot debtors earn.

Only a number of international locations supply nationwide degree income-contingent student loans, together with Australia, England and New Zealand.

Unlike mortgage-style loans, income-contingent loans forestall students who’re unable to repay going bankrupt or having their credit score downgraded. That could possibly be thought of beneficiant.

How does Australia evaluate to different international locations with income-contingent student loans?

Three key points of HELP’s settings decide how beneficiant it’s amongst international locations with income-contingent student loan schemes:

  • the preliminary threshold for compensation
  • how a lot must be repaid every year, and
  • the rate of interest on debt.

Repayment thresholds

The HELP revenue threshold of round A$54,000 makes it the very best within the OECD. For graduates with a comparatively low to common revenue (under A$54,000), the scheme is extra beneficiant than in different international locations.

For individuals incomes above the edge, compensation methods are more durable to check. HELP has the bottom compensation charges, between 4% and eight% relying on revenue. This compares to 9% in England, 12% in New Zealand, and 10% to twenty% on some restricted US income-based loans. But HELP repayments are calculated on a debtor’s complete revenue, whereas in different international locations repayments are based mostly on revenue above the edge.

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If a HELP debtor earns simply above the edge, he or she would repay 4% of complete revenue – A$2,100.

Compared to New Zealand, that is comparatively beneficiant. New Zealand loans require debtors to repay as soon as their revenue is above round A$18,000 (NZ$19,000). Assuming an revenue of A$54,000, with a compensation charge at 12%, the obligatory compensation can be round A$4,400 a yr – twice Australia’s obligatory compensation degree.

In England, the edge is round A$35,000 (£17,000) repaying at 9%. As in New Zealand, obligatory compensation is calculated based mostly on revenue above the edge. A debtor who earns A$54,000 would repay round A$1,700 beneath the English system.

Compulsory repayments by revenue and nation

Interest charges on debt

The final take a look at of generosity is the rate of interest the federal government expenses on student loans. Australia indexes HELP loans to the buyer value index, which signifies that loans preserve their worth in actual phrases. The authorities sometimes borrows at the next charge, so taxpayers pay a lot of the curiosity on student debt – a degree that was emphasised by the minister within the interview referred to at the start of this text.

While Australia’s system on curiosity is beneficiant, New Zealand’s is extra so: the NZ authorities expenses no curiosity on student loans except debtors stay abroad for longer than six months.

In England, rates of interest on student loans range by revenue. If debtors earn under the revenue threshold, their debt can be listed to the retail value index or RPI (a measure of inflation).

But on revenue above the edge (or research full-time), the curiosity is as much as RPI plus 3%. High-income debtors face larger rates of interest making their student loans much less beneficiant than the Australian system. Both the US and the Netherlands cost the federal government’s value of borrowing on their student loans.

Are there any international locations the place students don’t want a loan to get a level?

Finally, it’s price noting that a number of OECD international locations, together with Germany, Finland and Sweden, cost solely nominal tuition charges or no charges in any respect.

Both Australia and New Zealand present a direct authorities subsidy to most undergraduate students that reduces their charges and the way a lot they need to borrow. But the New Zealand authorities subsidises the next proportion of complete course prices than in Australia on common.

In England, most educating subsidies have been abolished and students pay the complete value of their diploma.


Senator Birmingham is true: Australia does run some of the beneficiant student loan schemes on the planet. It’s one of many few international locations to supply income-contingent student loans – saving individuals on low incomes from paying off their students loans, as is extra widespread within the US and different international locations.

Is it the most cost effective place on the planet to get a level? That’s a unique query altogether. As famous above, a number of OECD international locations, together with Germany, Finland and Sweden, cost little or no tuition charges. – Ittima Cherastidtham


This is a sound overview. The minister’s declare that Australia has the most effective student loan schemes on the planet is defensible for tuition charges.

While the minister wasn’t speaking about student residing prices when he made his assertion, it’s price noting that Australian authorities assist for student residing prices is under no circumstances beneficiant.

Both Aotearoa New Zealand and Britain have higher student loan schemes for residing bills. The calculations are sophisticated, however arguably grants and loans for tuition and residing are extra beneficiant for students from center revenue households in most Canadian provinces.

Of course, students would ask why they want such a powerful loan scheme for tuition charges in Australia, that are amongst the very best within the OECD. Loans are usually not wanted in Germany and different international locations which don’t cost tuition charges.

More element on worldwide comparisons could be discovered on this report. – Gavin Moodie

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