Education expenses

If cancer has caused you financial hardship, it may be possible to delay (defer) repayment of your education debt. You may also be able to come to some arrangement regarding school fees if your children attend a non-government school. Special grants can help young people to continue their education.

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Defer HECS or HELP debts

If you have a Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) or Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt and you are in financial difficulty, you can apply to defer your repayments.

You will need to show that making the repayments at this time would cause you serious hardship (i.e. would leave you unable to provide food, accommodation, clothing, medical treatment, education or other necessities for you or your family) or that there are other special reasons.

How to apply

To apply to defer your HECS/HELP repayments, complete the application form (available from or 1300 650 225), and send it to the ATO.

If your application is successful, you will still need to pay back your debt, but 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.

Negotiate school fees

Many private schools are willing to make arrangements for parents who are experiencing unexpected hardship and are unable to pay school fees in the short term. Ask for written confirmation of any changes you negotiate.

How to apply

As soon as you become aware that your financial situation has changed, contact 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 pursue tertiary study.

How to apply

Redkite provides grants to young people aged up to 24 years. Visit or call 1800 REDKITE (1800 733 548).

Ronald McDonald House Charities offer the Charlie Bell Scholarship program

This information was last reviewed in October 2015
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