Expat Australians to pay back student loans

Australians who move overseas will no longer be able to get out of paying off their student loans after parliament ticked off new rules to close a repayment loophole.

The Senate on Monday passed legislation to collect HELP loan repayments from Australians living abroad, after the 16-year-old loophole allowed them to escape the obligation.

The government says the new laws will ensure the sustainability of Australia’s “world class” student loan scheme while also instilling fairness into the system.


It would apply to 46,000 people and save the budget $150 million over 10 years.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the bill would strengthen Australia’s higher education system and reduce the burden on other taxpayers.

“It is critical that we ensure the sustainability of these HELP programs,” he told parliament on Monday.

“You should have to repay that debt if you are meeting the terms of repayment.”

From January 2016, Australians who move overseas for longer than six months would have to notify the tax office but won’t have to start paying back the loans until July 2017.

Loan repayments wouldn’t be collected if an expat didn’t earn above the same threshold that applies in Australia.