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Student HECS-HELP debt statistics

12% of Australians don’t think they’ll ever be able to repay their student debt.

Quick summary

  • The average HECS debt was $26,494 in the 2022–2023 fiscal year, according to ATO figures, up from $24,771 in 2021–22.
  • The 2023 HELP debt indexation of 7.1% has now been revised to 3.2% after changes to the indexation method.
  • Finder analysis reveals the indexation rate is likely to average at 4.75% on June 1 for the 2023–2024 financial year – the second highest we’ve seen since 1990.
  • This means the average Australian with student debt could see themselves paying $1,258 more a year when indexation comes into effect on 1 June 2024.
  • The number of people with debts above $40K is close to 21% of all debtors (2022–23).

Student loans Australia

    • The average HECS debt was $26,494 in the 2022–2023 fiscal year. This is up from $24,771 in 2021–22, according to ATO figures.
    • There were 2.9 million people with outstanding HECS-HELP debt in 2022–23.
    • The total amount of outstanding student debt hit $78.2 billion in 2022–23, up from $74.4 billion in 2021–22.
    • The number of people with debts above $40K is close to 21% of all debtors (2022–23).
    • The government reduced the HELP loan limit to $121,844 for the majority of students. Those studying veterinary science, medicine, dentistry or other eligible courses have a limit of $174,998.
    • 63% of those with HELP debt are concerned about their ability to pay their student debt.
    • Shockingly, 12% don't think they'll ever pay their student HELP debt off.

HECS indexation

    • Student HELP debt is technically an "interest-free loan" but it's indexed to keep up with inflation.
    • The indexation rate initially went up to 7.1% in June 2023, meaning 3 million Australians were hit with higher payments. But the federal government has retroactively lowered this to 3.2%.
    • The indexation rate is looking likely to be 4.0% in June 2024, meaning repayments will average $1,258 a year.
    • The 2023 HELP debt indexation was the highest on record in a decade, up from 3.9% in 2022 and 0.6% in 2021.
  • The 7.1% indexation added about 6 months to the average student's repayment time, according to ANU analysis.

Analysis based on potential indexation rate figures

YearIndexation rateIndexation applied to average HELP debt ($26,494)Indexation applied to $30,000 HELP debtIndexation applied to $40,000 HELP debtIndexation applied to $50,000 HELP debt
20223.90%$1,033$1,170$1,560$1,950
20237.10%$1,881$2,130$2,840$3,550
2024 (estimate)4.75%$1,258$1,425$1,900$2,375
Source: Finder

Source: Finder's analysis. Figures rounded to the nearest dollar

Written by

Susannah Binsted

Susannah Binsted is the international PR manager at Finder. Susannah has a Bachelor of Communication and a Bachelor of International Studies from the University of Technology Sydney. See full profile

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