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What is OS-HELP?

OS‑HELP is a loan available to eligible students enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place who want to undertake some of their study overseas. The OS-HELP loan amount is added to your accumulated HECS-HELP debt and can be used for a range of expenses such as airfares, accommodation, and other travel or study expenses. Students may receive one loan per six-month period (commencing on the first day of the overseas program and ending six months from the commencement date) and can access a total of two OS‑HELP loans over their lifetime. A student's overseas study must take place within the relevant six-month period of the OS-HELP loan. Students may receive OS-HELP for overseas study of less than six months, but cannot receive an OS-HELP loan more than once in any given six month period.

OS-HELP eligibility requirements are determined under the Higher Education Support Act (2003) (HESA) and further outlined in the Department of Education- Higher Education Administrative Information for Providers (AIP) 2015 and the Study Assist website. In addition to the government eligibility requirements (as outlined below), the University must determine its own internal criteria and OS-HELP policy in accordance with the guidelines. All of the information on this webpage has been taken directly from, or complies with, the relevant government documents as mentioned above.

As a UC student, to be eligible for an OS‑HELP loan, you must:

  • be an Australian citizen, permanent humanitarian visa holder or a New Zealand Special Category Visa holder who meets the long-term residency requirements (NZ SCV holders should seek more information from the StudyAssist website); and
  • be enrolled with UC as a Commonwealth supported student; and
  • have successfully completed one year of full-time study (24 UC credit points) towards your Commonwealth supported UC course (can include undergraduate study if currently undertaking an Honours component); and
  • have at least 3 UC credit points to return to on completion of your overseas study; and
  • have the overseas study count towards the course requirements for the UC course of study which you are enrolled in; and
  • meet the tax file number (TFN) requirements by providing your TFN (or a completed Certificate of application for a TFN) to UC Study Abroad; and
  • not have received an OS-HELP loan on more than one other occasion; and
  • not have been granted an OS-HELP loan by UC or another provider for an overlapping 6 month study period; and
  • not have completed or discontinued your overseas study before applying for the OS-HELP loan; and
  • be undertaking full-time study while overseas (see part 32.10 of the AIP to determine full-time study); and
  • have received official acceptance from an overseas university, program provider or program leader; and
  • have received approval for the overseas study to count as credit towards the course you are currently enrolled in at UC.
  • be selected by UC Study Abroad to receive an OS-HELP loan and completed all required OS-HELP application steps (see the How to Apply tab below).

To be eligible for a supplementary Asian language study loan (in addition to your OS-HELP loan), you must:

  • be selected by UC for OS-HELP assistance for overseas study in Asia for the same six-month period; and
  • be undertaking or planning to undertake Asian language study to prepare for your overseas study in Asia (the study must not have already been completed); and
  • Complete the Asian language study before the commencement of the overseas study; and
  • not be undertaking Asian language study as part of a course leading to a higher education award for which you are in a Commonwealth supported place or receiving FEE-HELP; and
  • apply for and be selected to receive a supplementary amount for Asian language study; and

You can also check your OS-HELP eligibility by taking our online questionnaire

Check Eligibility Now

The amount you may apply to borrow is indexed annually by the Australian Government on 1 January. Maximums increase each year. You can apply for up to the maximum for the year in which you are applying, not the year in which you will travel (if this is different). In 2020, the maximum amounts are:

  • $6,913 AUD if you will not be studying in Asia
  • $8,295 AUD if you will be studying in Asia plus an optional additional $1,085 AUD if you will be undertaking Asian language study in preparation for study in Asia

You may apply for the following set amounts in 2018 up to your specified program limit as stated above (please note: This only applies for applications submitted from 01/01/2019):

$2500 AUD $4500 AUD $6913 AUD $8295 AUD (Asia Only)

Please note: The University can not provide a greater number of OS-HELP loans than the number advised by the department in a given year.  The total amount of OS-HELP assistance approved for each applicant is dependent on the total OS-HELP funding made available to the University. The selection basis for the provision of OS-HELP will be determined by eligibility and the order in which we receive completed applications.

Regardless of your program type, the entire OS-HELP application process can take up to six weeks to complete and there is a paper application and signature component required, so please aim to apply at least six weeks before you depart Canberra.

You must apply for OS-HELP:

  • No more than six months prior to your overseas program commencement date; AND
  • No later than
    • Six weeks prior to the commencement date of the overseas program (for short programs, Faculty Led Programs, internships or other international opportunities); OR
    • Six weeks after your overseas program's commencement date for semester or year long exchange or study abroad (though applying prior to departing Canberra is preferred practice).

In the case of applying for a second OS-HELP loan for a consecutive six month period to an initial OS-HELP approved loan, you must apply no earlier than six weeks prior to the commencement date of your second overseas program as specified by the HESA guidelines (section 2.5.30).

If you intend to apply for the additional allowance for Asian language study, you must apply after you have evidence of enrolment and prior to the completion of the language study.

OS-HELP Application Process

Please read Step 1 and Step 2 carefully before applying.

Step 1 – Apply Online

Students eligible for OS-HELP must first apply online. You will need to make sure your contact details, including your address, is up to date in your MyUC portal before applying.

Student must upload:

  • UC Study Abroad Course Credit Transfer Agreement (CCTA) OR confirmation of enrolment in your Faculty Led Program (FLP) required unit
  • Acceptance letter from a host university or internship provider, or for FLP Programs, an acceptance letter from the academic coordinator/leader
  • Student Progression Report from your My UC account (directions in the OS-Help application)
  • If you are participating in an AIM Overseas Program, or a Short Course (not including Faculty Led Programs or Exchange), you complete a Cross Institutional Form. Please complete this form before applying for OS-HELP.

By completing Step 1, students agree that all correspondence relating to OS-HELP may be made via email or other electronic application.

Step 2 – Complete eCAF online and provide Bank Details to Study Abroad

Step 2 will be completed online:

  • You should receive an acceptance or declined email within 72 business hours, based on an assessment of your OS-HELP eligibility from Step 1.
  • If you meet the eligibility requirements and have successfully completed Step 1, you will be invited to sign and complete the electronic OS-HELP Debt Confirmation Form online. You will also receive a separate email asking you to complete your bank details. You'll need to return your completed bank details via email reply. This invite will remain valid for 4 weeks, after which time the application will be cancelled and a new application will need to be made.
  • You will need to have your Tax File Number (TFN) and bank account details on hand in order to complete Step 2.

Apply for OS-HELP now

Provision of false or misleading information by students:
The personal information collected in your OS-HELP application is collected for the purpose of determining your eligibility for an OS-HELP loan. If the University knows, or has reason to believe, that a student in receipt of OS-HELP has provided false or misleading information in their OS-HELP application, UC must immediately notify the department and provide them with a copy of the student's application and any other relevant information or material the department requests. The University may also be required to disclose your personal information as otherwise authorised or required by law. If the loan has not yet been paid when the University discovers that a student is no longer eligible or has provided false or misleading information, the university is obliged to withdraw the offer of a loan.

Loan Payment for Successful Applications

The money will be paid to you by electronic funds transfer within four (4) weeks of the UC Study Abroad Office receiving your completed OS-HELP Debt Confirmation Form and Direct Deposit Form (Step 2). You are deemed to have incurred an OS-HELP Debt on the day the funds transfer occurs.

Repayment of OS-HELP Debts:
The amount you borrow will be added to your existing HELP debt. Once the loan has been approved and paid, it cannot be cancelled and will be added to your HELP debt even if you do not complete your studies or cannot undertake or complete the approved overseas study. You can repay your accumulated debt through the Australian taxation system once your income is above the minimum repayment threshold for compulsory repayment.

If you are dissatisfied with the decision made by the University regarding your OS-HELP application, please make your complaint in writing to in the first instance, within 21 days after receipt of the decision. If you are still not satisfied, please refer to the University Grievance Policy.

Further Information

Contact UC Study Abroad

UC Study Abroad Office
University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT
02 6206 8745