- Cancer Information
- Practical concerns
- Cancer and your finances
- Reducing debts and expenses
- Education expenses
If cancer has caused you financial hardship, you may be able to come to some arrangement regarding school fees or it may be possible to delay (defer) repayment of your education (HECS–HELP) debt. Special grants can help young people to continue their education.
Learn more about:
Negotiate school fees
Fees are not compulsory in public schools, but it’s a good idea to contact the school to discuss payment of voluntary contributions. Many private and independent schools are willing to make arrangements for parents experiencing unexpected hardship who cannot pay school fees in the short term. Ask for written confirmation of any changes you negotiate.
As soon as you become aware that your financial situation has changed, get in touch with the school principal to discuss your options. These may include:
- investigating scholarships or bursaries that cover school fees and other expenses
- negotiating a payment arrangement
- requesting a temporary suspension of your fees.
Apply for an education grant
Young people affected by cancer may be able to access special grants to help them pay for education and training:
- Redkite provides grants to young people aged up to 18.
- Ronald McDonald House Charities offers the Charlie Bell Scholarship program to people aged 15–20.
- Carers Australia provides the Young Carer Bursary Program to carers aged 12–25.
Defer HECS–HELP debts
You may have a HECS–HELP debt under the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). If you are having trouble repaying the debt, you can apply to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to defer your repayments or pay by instalments.
You will need to show that making the repayments would cause serious hardship (that is, would leave you unable to provide food, clothing, accommodation, medical treatment, education or other necessities for you or your family) or that there are other special reasons.
The ATO may also ask you to provide details of your income and expenses, and a copy of your most recent pay slip.
To defer your HECS–HELP repayments, complete the application form (call 1300 650 225) and return it to the ATO. If your application is successful, you won’t need to make any repayments until the next financial year. If you want to defer your repayments for another year, you will need to reapply.
Podcast: Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis
Rania Tannous, Head of Legal, Corporate, Legal and Governance, AMP; Patricia Troll, Senior Legal Counsel, AMP Financial Services Legal, Legal and Governance, AMP; Lynette Brailey, Program Coordinator, Financial Assistance Service, Cancer Council NSW; Stephen Bray, Financial Planner, FM Financial, TAS; Angela Daly, Senior Social Worker, Cancer Services, The Adem Crosby Centre, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, QLD; Sandra Hodge, Consumer; Sandi Johnson, Consumer; Antony Mitchell, Financial Counsellor, Financial Counselling Program, Cancer Council VIC; Lucy Pollerd, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Heather Richards, Consumer; Deb Roffe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA.
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