Commonwealth supported students and Education Fees in Australia

In 2007, HECS places became known as Commonwealth supported places (CSP). The Commonwealth government determines the number and allocation of undergraduate Commonwealth supported places with each public higher education provider each year, through the Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS). A CSP is a higher education place for which the Commonwealth government makes a contribution to the higher education provider towards the cost of a student's education. The student makes a contribution towards the cost of education, known as the student contribution. Commonwealth supported places are available to citizens of Australia and New Zealand and Australian permanent residents.

The majority of CSPs are managed through the tertiary admissions centre in each state or territory (although universities make the selections, deciding which students they will make offers to):

Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) in NSW and ACT
Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre
South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre in South Australia and the Northern Territory
University of Tasmania in Tasmania
Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) in Victoria
Tertiary Institutions Service Centre in Western Australia.
The allocation is usually based on secondary school results (through the ATAR or OP scores), TAFE qualifications and previous university results.

The student contribution varies between courses, and is based on the expected earnings following a students' graduation, not the cost of providing the course. Higher education providers can set the student contribution level for each unit of study, up to a maximum level set by the government. It is said that, due to government underfunding of universities, universities almost always charge the highest level allowable.

Since 2012, an eligible student who pays the entire or a part of the student contribution upfront receives a 10% HECS discount on the amount paid (prior to 2012, the HECS discount was 20%) or defer payment of the balance of the contribution through a HECS-HELP loan. Only Australian citizens and permanent humanitarian visa holders are eligible for the up-front 10% HECS discount and the HECS-HELP loan. Students who are New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents must pay the entire contribution upfront and are not eligible to receive the HECS discount.