As a consequence, loan repayments are only made when the former student has income to support the repayments. The debt does not attract normal interest, but grows with CPI inflation. Discounts are available for early repayment. The scheme is available to citizens and permanent humanitarian visa holders. Means-tested scholarships for living expenses are also available. Special assistance is available to indigenous students.
There has been criticism that the HECS-HELP scheme creates an incentive for people to leave the country after graduation, because those who do not file an Australian tax return do not make any repayments.
united kingdom loans
Student loans in the United Kingdom are primarily provided by the state-owned Student Loans Company. Interest begins to accumulate on each loan payment as soon as the student receives it, but repayment is not required until the start of the next tax year after the student completes (or abandons) their education.
Since 1998, repayments have been collected by HMRC via the tax system, and are calculated based on the borrower's current level of income. If the borrower's income is below a certain threshold (£15,000 per tax year for 2011/2012, £21,000 per tax year for 2012/2013), no repayments are required, though interest continues to accumulate.
Loans are cancelled if the borrower dies or becomes permanently unable to work. Depending on when the loan was taken out and which part of the UK the borrower is from, they may also be cancelled after a certain period of time usually after 30 years, or when the borrower reaches a certain age.
united states loans
In the United States, there are two types of student loans: federal loans sponsored by the federal government and private student loans.  The overwhelming majority of student loans are federal loans. Federal loans can be "subsidized" or "unsubsidized". Interest does not accrue on subsidized loans while the students are in school. Student loans may be offered as part of a total financial aid package that may also include grants, scholarships, and/or work study opportunities.
Prior to 2010, federal loans were also divided between direct loans--originated and funded by the federal government--and guaranteed loans, originated and held by private lenders but guaranteed by the government. The guaranteed lending program was eliminated in 2010 because of a widespread perception that the government guarantees boosted student lending companies' profits but did not benefit students by reducing student loan costs. 
Federal Student loans are generally less expensive than private student loans. However, the federal student lending program still generates billions of dollars in profit for the government each year, because the interest payments exceed the government's own borrowing costs, loan losses, and administrative costs. Losses on student loans are extremely low, even when students default, in part because these loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy unless repaying the loan would create an "undue hardship" for the student borrower and his or her dependents. In 2005, the bankruptcy laws were changed so that private educational loans also could not be readily discharged. Supporters of this change claimed that it would reduce student loan interest rates.
The Income-Based Repayment plan is an alternative to paying back student loans, which allow the borrower to pay back the loan based on how much he/she makes, and not based how much money is actually owed. However, income based repayment does not apply to private loans.
IBR plans generally cap loan payments at 10 percent of the student borrower's income. Interest accrues and the balance continues to build. However, after a certain number of years, the balance of the loan is forgiven. This period is 10 years if the student borrower works in the public sector (government or a nonprofit) and 25 years if the student works at a for-profit. Debt forgiveness is treated as taxable income.
Scholars have criticized IBR plans on the grounds that they create moral hazard and suffer from adverse selection. That is, IBR may encourage student borrowers who could have obtained high-wage jobs to take low wage jobs with good benefits and minimal work hours to reduce their loan payments, thereby driving up the cost of the IBR program. And, if IBR programs are optional, only students who expect to have low wages will opt into the program. Historically, a number of IBR programs have collapsed because of these problems.
Most college students in the United States qualify for federal student loans. Students can borrow the same amount of money, at the same price, regardless of their own income or their parents income, regardless of their expected future income, regardless of their credit history. Only students who have defaulted on federal student loans or have been convicted of drug offenses are excluded.
The amount students can borrow each year depends on their education level (undergraduate or graduate), and their status as dependent or independent. Undergraduates may receive lower interest rates than graduate students, but graduate students can typically borrow more per year.
Private lenders may use different underwriting criteria, including income level, parents' income level, and other financial considerations. Students will generally only borrow from private lenders when they exhaust the maximum borrowing limit under federal loans. Several scholars have advocated eliminating the borrowing limit on federal loans and enabling students to borrow according to their needs (tuition plus living expenses) and thereby eliminating high-cost private loans.
Federal student loan interest rates are established by Congress and listed in § 20 U.S.C. § 1087E(b). Because the interest rates are established by Congress, interest rates are a political decision. The federal student loan program currently runs a multibillion dollar "negative subsidy", or profit, for the federal government. Some scholars have suggested that federal student loan interest rates should be tailored to particular courses of study and reflect the riskiness of those different courses of study. They have also suggested that the program should be run at cost, or below cost, because of the benefits and educated workforce provides to society--lower burdens on public services, lower health costs, higher wages and tax revenues, lower unemployment.
Repayment typically begins anywhere from six to twelve months after a student leaves school, regardless of whether or not they complete their degree program. In some cases, repayment begins if course load drops to half time or less, so it is important to check the exact terms and conditions of any student loan.
The student may have multiple options for extending the repayment period, although an extension of the loan term will likely reduce the monthly payment, it will also increase the amount of total interest paid on the principle balance during the life of the loan. Extension options include extended payment periods offered by the original lender and federal loan consolidation. There are also other extension options including income sensitive repayment plans and hardship deferments. Extensions and consolidation will also add to the principal, many times unpaid interest and penalties become capitalized.
The Master Promissory Note is an agreement between the lender and the borrower that promises to repay the loan. It is a binding legal contract.