SFSS – Student Financial Supplement Loan - Repayment Thresholds and Rates 2019

The Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS) was a voluntary loan scheme for tertiary students to help cover their expenses while they study

The SFSS closed on 31 December 2003 and no new loans have been issued. Existing Financial Supplement debts will continue to be collected through the tax system.

If you took out a Student Financial Supplement Loan between the years of 1993 and 2003, you are required to repay some of your debt if your Repayment Income (RI) is greater than the thresholds in the table below.

The Repayment Income (RI) is your taxable income plus any total net investment loss (which includes net rental losses), total reportable fringe benefits amounts, reportable super contributions and exempt foreign employment income.

Hopefully, you have notified your pay office that you have a SFSS debt so that they can take extra PAYG Withholding on your behalf to cover your obligations. For the 2018 – 19 year your employer will start withholding SFSS if your wages exceed $999 per week.

When you have lodged your 2019 tax return, based on your Repayment Income (RI) the ATO will calculate how much SFSS will need to be paid

Unfortunately, the SFSS has no provision to make any voluntary payments.

The SFSS that is calculated and the extra tax that has been withheld out of your wages by your pay office is in most cases enough to offset each other.

Reportable Fringe Benefits

In some cases, if you are receiving reportable fringe benefit it may be wise to ask your pay office to withhold extra PAYG Withholding to cover a possible shortfall in SFSS at the end of the year.

I have been asked by clients, is it worth salary sacrificing and receiving a reportable fringe benefit with the possibility of paying extra off the SFSS loan? Yes is my answer, the amount of tax saved by salary sacrificing will far outweigh any extra payments off your SFSS loan, keeping in mind that any extra payments will mean that your loan will be paid off earlier.

Repayment income (RI*) thresholdsRepayment rate
Below $51,957Nil
$51,957 – $64,3062%
$64,307 – $91,4253%
$91,426 and above4%

*RI= Taxable income plus any total net investment loss (which includes net rental losses), total reportable fringe benefits amounts, reportable super contributions and exempt foreign employment income.

227 Comments

  1. Everyone is talking about a class action but nobody is doing anything. I have no experience in this area so how does one begin?

  2. Hi guys. In the same boat as everyone else here.. young and naive and now around 15l in debt. The scheme is an utter disgrace. Is there anyone here with enough legal know how to do something about it? I have no idea but am keen to be a part of something to abolish our ridiculous unfair debts. Today tonight or A Current Affair maybe??

  3. Hi all.
    So glad I found this forum, I thought I was alone.
    I was given one of these loans when I was a minor.
    Not one bit of adult consent was sought by Centrelink.
    Surely this is illegal?
    Please drop me an email at thatfryboy@gmail.com Thanks

  4. So an 2017 update – there are now over 150 people on the same sinking boat and no word on a calss action suit or any update on what the ATO will do about it. I don’t suppose anyone on here graduated Uni with a law degree?? Anyone??

  5. I contacted Maurice and Blackburn in early 2016 via email about launching a class action against the Australian Government and CBA over the SFSS. I included a link to this site so that they could see these posts. They called me and said that they would not take on the case as it exceeding the statute of limitation.

    1. Statute of limitations? but people are STILL paying these debts and are far from finished. Of course i dont know anything about law but this doesnt make sense too me. Surely one of us suckers did a law degree?

  6. I too am victim to the SFSS along with my partner
    And sister. Please keep me updated if any action occurs

  7. ok this is what I propose. can someone write a text that we can use to contact other lawyers? something short and precise with a link to this site, that explains the situation.

    and lets make a list of lawyers (with email adresses please)

    we can then make an email adresss that for our group and send out the email and see if any lawyers are interested. ( to prevent doubling emails)

    how does this sound?
    any other ideas?

  8. Also happy to join any class action

    1. how and why did the ato reduce your debt? did you ask them? or it just happened automatically? its the first time i have heard of this

  9. Hi All, ATO reduced my SFSS debt to what I actually owe $3000 with the wording “not viable to pursue”. However this year I am due to receive a sizeable return, however the ATO have not paid it out yet and have informed my accountant that they are considering restating the debt to $10,000 and that is what is holding up my tax return. I think I will lodge and objection. This loan is so outrageous it is in effect legalised crime.

  10. My questions posted the 19th jan are for the post that is directly underneath.

  11. I also took out one of these loans without understanding what I was really doing. I was just 17at the time and was struggling to survive and study. I would be interested in joining a class action. I’m happy to pay back the loan but not the 100% interest plus indexation on top.

  12. I took the loan in 1996.
    I have the brochure and a signed copy of agreemen. I’m interested in joining a class action against the CBA and the AUstralian government.
    Please contact me!
    Joanna

  13. I am also interested in joining a class action.

  14. Also made the mistake of being lured into those loans as a battling single parent and university student in 1996-2000. Unbelievable to think how I didn’t totally comprehend the concept of how incredibly crazy paying back double the amount loaned would be. I still have a debt in excess of $40,000 and I am now 38 years old and have worked for almost 15 years since uni.

  15. I am very interested in joining a class action. I was 23, both my parents had died, I was the carer of a younger sister who had 8 involuntary admissions to a psychiatrist hospital, there was no family home, no relatives overseeing the situation, no nothing. I was doing what i could do to survive, and I did. I am a paid up member of the workforce, but I nearly fifty and a housE deposit feels like a pipe dream when I work in low paid community sector job, and I have a 19000 supplement loan debt if have been ‘paying off’ for years.

  16. Judging by all the comments on here there are a lot of us who have one of these ridiculous debts. I keep checking back here every now & again to see if anything is happening and I hope others do also, as I think we will have more power in numbers if a class action were to come about. I have also found a petition on the change website if others would like to sign the link is:

    https://www.change.org/p/malcolm-turnbull-student-financial-supplement-loan-participants-in-significant-financial-distress

  17. Hello everyone, was such a rip off and took advantage of desperate people! I heard there was a legal case against the government? I think there should be a class action?

    1. My mum took out the SFSS on my behalf and the money was paid to her. I was living at home with her while studying but yes you could argue I pay board or help with food… but that’s hardly justified in the debt I ended up with. From 2000 to 2004 I had over $40,000 in SFSS debt. Fast forwars to 2019 and I am still paying it off. The ATO should not be charging interest on it all these years making it harder to pay off. The govt should wipe all debts clean and take responsibility. No way would a bank allow minors or young adults not working and studying to take out loans for living expenses. Half the loan amount would be a non interest entitlement you got anyway. Royal commission into the banks? what about the ATO re: SFSS!!

  18. Has anyone here had any success talking directly to the ATO regarding this?

    1. I spoke to someone at the ATO and told her that I am depressed and anxious about this. She told me I don’t have to pay it back and if I die and own property that’s what the government will take

  19. Reading all these comments. It seems that I wasn’t the only one who was “sucked” into this scam. When younger, I took out these loans to survive, when I went to TAFE and Uni. The total of mine was $23k After the amount of $$$ paid v’s the Indexation, I have paid $964 off the principal.

    This scheme was the biggest ripoff. Thought that this will get me ahead, but no. I contacted the ATO and all they said is “that I can make voluntary payments and gave me a bsb and account number”

    1. Author

      Keep in mind that the compulsory payment is still levied when your tax returns are completed if your income is greater than the thresholds.

  20. So yes it seems I am in the same boat. At a young age of maybe 16 I too took out a loan and now I am 39 owe nearly 20k over what it originally was. I need any help any one has to offer??

  21. only 3 signatures needed to obtain 200!

  22. Just stumbled on this forum. Have signed that change petition. 20yrs later, I have $35k still outstanding on the SFSS debt, and no way to make a lump sum payment or increase my repayment amount to minimise interest compounding. I have already paid off all my HECS but on my current income, it will be another 17yrs before I have paid of another $35k, but how much interest would have been applied and compounded by then? This is highway robbery. I was in financial distress, austudy wouldn’t help for 6mths and ostracised by my single mother when this carrot was dangled on me the first time. They saw me coming didn’t they.

  23. This thread started 8 years ago and not much has changed except how much everyone owes for this scam. A few lawyers have been contacted but not much else and a small petition. We have to get organised or this is never going to end. Hopefully it ends when we are dead, but who knows if it gets passed onto our children?

    I have just refound the original pamphlets and forms if this could help anybody. I do not know anyone in law and live overseas so I am sorry not be able to propse more.

  24. Very interested in a class action. Please email me at e_sinclairau@yahoo.com.au if you are interested. I am currently looking at legal avenues having exhausted both the banking and taxation Ombudsman.

  25. just found this forum – can’t believe how bad these stories are – mine is the same. I just got a lump sum of money and thought it might be time to get rid of these debts as it cuts my tax return every year. Hecs – no problem – SFSS – wow seems I can’t get rid of it – hecs is already down to $4k, but sfss is up $28k, and sounds like nothing I can do except earn heaps more otherwise it will just keep acruing interest.

    Can’t believe how naive I was at the time – just unable to survive on austudy so this seemed like a great option.

  26. I had to take this loan out for years in the 1990’s as I had no family support and was studying an area that required a lot of expenditure for resources. I was the first to go to university in my family and I was studying in Tasmania where there was little to no casual/part time employment, so I was really struggling. I remember that the loan was meant to not exceed about 1.5 – 2%. Does anyone have the data on this as I no longer have a copy of my original contracts. I’ve been paying off a 50k + debt for over 17 years. I’m nearing retirement, on my own and will be living in a shed as that is all I can afford. This debt is still hanging around even though I’ve paid off thousands. In retrospect I know I was stupid to do it but I had to pay the rent and fed myself too.

    1. Author

      If your taxable income is less than $55,874 for the 2018 financial year then you don’t have to make any payments off your debt, this also applies to when you retire. There is a very good chance that your debt will not be paid off in your life time, which is okay as the ATO only requires you to pay the loanin your income passes the threshold.

      1. But the ATO will take your property or other assets to get their money. By that time our debts could be $100,000. What will be left for our kids??

        1. Author

          The only way you pay back the debt is if your income is greater than the thresholds supplied by the ATO if you do not exceed the required threshold then no payment needs to be made.

  27. I just discovered this thread and really feel for everyone who has big debts owing on this scam of a scheme. Thought i would share my story. I fell for the SSFS to help me survive while putting myself through uni with no parental support from 1999-2002. Studying full-time and having to pay rent and support yourself alone was so hard, and this scheme preyed on students who had limited options for financial support. I made it through and was lucky enough to get a professional job soon after university but despite working mostly full-time since graduation in a professional, fairly well paid career, over 15 years later I am still paying this debt off. It will only be the end of this financial year that I will be free of it. It has been a massive burden, but not as bad for me as for some people who still have huge debts. If it took me 15 years with a good job to pay it off, imagine how hard it is for others who for different circumstances.

  28. I am a financial counsellor and I also have two SFSS. I see clients who have SFSS loans and they are just increasing with CPI and they will take years to repay! Some of my clients will never be able to repay them but the stress it causes them is disturbing.
    I am interested in pursuing a class action and have contacted Maurice Blackburn on behalf of a client. Obviously they will need more than one person for a class action, so if you would like to be involved, please send me an email at acoleman@gsmicrofinance.org.au
    Let’s get something done about this!!

  29. With all the attention on the banking sector and the Royal Commission, does anyone know if CBA have had the finger pointed at them for this rip off scheme?

  30. I have an SFSS debt as well. I went to Uni from 1995-1998. My SFSS debt at the end of my time was $28,000.

    I have been paying this debt off since I left university, which was some 20 years ago. My SFSS debt is now $42,000.

    When I signed up for the loan with the Commonwealth Bank it was interest free and you would have to pay it back once you reached a certain threshold.

    At no time did the Commonwealth advise me that the ATO would take over the loans and add CPI to it. Doing this effectively means you will never pay off the debt unless you pay voluntary payments.

    I believe the majority of people who have a SFSS debt should have it removed. I would be very interested in taking part in a class action.

  31. I have also a SFSS debt which I took out in 1997-1999 I have been paying this since I started working in 2000 I took 3 of these loans each year I spent at uni these loans were used for the basic food rent I am still paying these off I took out a personal loan for my HEC debt which I also had. The interest they charge make it impossible to pay off. I would be very interested in taking part in the class action.

  32. Is this page still active?

    I have an SFSS debt which I have now been paying for 20 years and still owe 18k.

    I contacted the ATO and they couldn’t tell me the original debt. I’m awaiting for them to send a statement but they said it will probably be incomplete.

    I’ve now been hit with higher payments and an extra $124 out of my take home pay.

    I’ve contacted every MP I can think off and I’m not having any success.

    I feel I was totally mislead, had no real understanding of what I was getting myself into. This is a lifetime debt.

    PS HECS is paid.

  33. I too have a SFSS debt from a loan I took out in 1993-1994. I was so young, so naïve and I do regret it as my debt is still 15K and I’ve been paying it off for years. I had no idea what I was doing at 19 and was struggling to survive at uni. Interesting they stopped the loan in 2003 and have never had another one like it since. Just a nightmare always hanging over my head as I still have HECS to pay off too but nowhere near the cost of the SFSS. It’s so distressing!!

  34. My debt loan was taken out in 1997/8. What a mistake. I never earned enough to warrant a repayment. After my daughter was born in 2008 my overall debt had increased from original $14,000(2 years) to $26,000. My parents died in 2014 and some inheritance was used to give a lump sum of $9,000. still owing $17,000. This past years index was $658 for 1 year.
    Low income earner! Never ending debt.

  35. Hello people, I left a post here in 2015 or 2016 and so far nothing. I got ripped off for $40k with a duel degree back in 2004 when the scheme (scam) was finalised with no sunset clause. I had to return to my trade and was subsequently injured again in 2007 on an unsafe worksite. I missed out on compensation for a grade 5 back injury due to the statute of 3 years for injury claims. I made a successful TPD claim with Maurice Blackbrun and then the ATO took about $35k for the loan I didn’t finish receiving. Welcome to Ausmerica folks and forget about any class action on this Government regulated bank scam.

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