If kids born/raised in USA but dual Australian citizens,free college?
March 29, 2015 1:47 PM   Subscribe

My understanding is that Australian citizens get access to a much lower tuition rate at Australian universities, and that the way student loans are repaid in Australia basically means that the repayment pauses indefinitely as long as the Australian moves abroad after graduation. Does this mean that if my kids are born/raised in the USA (but have Australian citizenship through their Australian mother), I could send them off to Australian universities and have them receive their university education more-or-less for free (since they'd presumably be returning to the US after graduation)? Or are there additional residency/repayment requirements that I'm missing?

If so, seems like this would sure as hell beat paying for 2 kids' worth of college tuition at the United States' incredibly inflated prices.
posted by Televangelist to Education (11 answers total)
Best answer: Yes, Australian citizens are eligible for Government supported university tuition (HECS). Here's some info. on eligibility. And here's a more comprehensive booklet on HECS/HELP (PDF).

And yes, if your kids studied in Australia in HECS places, and then moved overseas, under current arrangements they could indefinetely put off repaying their HECS debt. I would encourage you not to do this, though, because you would basically be screwing over Australian taxpayers.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:11 PM on March 29, 2015 [15 favorites]

Yes. I work with someone who grew up in Michigan and whose father was Australian and opted to go to college here (Australia). She's in her mid-late 20's.

I will re-emphasize the phrase Australian citizens: she is still here, and here indefinitely. Dual citizenship is not technically allowed. Additionally, there's better funding for graduate school, wages in most average jobs are higher, lower unemployment, national health care etc... Are you prepared for them to decide to stay? Or to HAVE to stay?

What will you do if there's grandchildren? Can you afford to visit as often as you'd want? Move back? (I'm a permanent resident here on a spousal visa with a child, working full time. Definitely paying taxes. I'm not going anywhere. I am NOT eligible for HECS. Citizens (and refugees) only!)
posted by jrobin276 at 2:24 PM on March 29, 2015

Dual citizenship is not technically allowed.

That's not correct. Australia allows duel citizenship. And so does the US.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:30 PM on March 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

This, from red thoughts' link, suggests that dual citizenship is allowed: "No. New Zealand citizens and non-humanitarian permanent visa holders are not eligible for a HECS‑HELP loan or discounts for up-front payments of student contributions (unless the New Zealand citizen is also an Australian citizen). "
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:30 PM on March 29, 2015

This, from red thoughts' link, suggests that dual citizenship is allowed.

I know from personal experience that it is. I am a dual citizen who went through university in Australia on a HECS place.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:34 PM on March 29, 2015

Response by poster: JRobin276: My wife's family is currently in Australia, and if they decided to stay in Australia that'd be lovely. :) We're a pretty globally spread out family as it is (we're on the east coast, my family's on the west coast, her family's in Australia/South Asia/Middle East).

Histhoughtswereredthoughts: I agree that it wouldn't be ideal from the perspective of the Australian taxpayer, but my response is twofold:

1. I have no certainty about whether or not they'll stay in Australia after graduation -- they'll be adults and can do as they like, so it's perfectly possible that they would. Australia is amazing, I wouldn't blame them.

2. To the extent this is a problem for Australia, the bulk of the problem stems from Australians who move abroad, not kids who are Australian citizens but have never lived there. I know many Australians who moved to the States after graduation for career or other reasons; ideally the Australian government should come up with a systematic way to address all those loan repayments, rather than creating a scenario where people get a free ride but only if they leave. From the second link you just posted as I was writing this reply, it sounds like that may happen before my kids would be university age. And that's fine! My main focus is on not paying exorbitant American tuition, not on getting a free ride even on the tuition part.
posted by Televangelist at 2:35 PM on March 29, 2015

Yep, under current rules you can do this without a problem - there is no residency requirement other than citizenship. I say this as a dual Australian-other citizen - Australia does allow it. You will need proof of citizenship on their first day of classes (i.e. Australian passport.)

That said, they'd really like to change the rules so students who move overseas have to repay their debt. They'd also really like to change the rules to deregulate uni fees (and move them closer to the US costs) - this, last I checked, has failed senate approval twice and the education minister intends to bring it to the senate a third time.
posted by Ashlyth at 2:45 PM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't want to be 'That Guy' but it's not that dual citizenship is allowed by the US government, it's simply ignored. As in, there's nothing expressly making it illegal but it is not acknowledged by the US government. It may amount to the same thing more or less but there is no legislation that says 'Yep, we are totally down with dual citizenship so go pledge your allegiances to multiple countries'. So there are dual citizens of course but it's more of a blind eye situation.

Specifically in regards to your situation, yes you can do it. You should be aware that this could change though depending on your time line. Once upon a time NZ was similar but now you're on the hook once you leave the country for over 6 months plus they tack on all the interest. Can't imagine Aussie will be far behind on this to be honest. And yes, it's actually a pretty shitty thing to do. Stuff like this is what drives up taxes in countries with socialist systems. Every time you take a benefit you don't need or intend to reimburse, it comes from money that could have gone into someone else's pocket that actually needs it. Countries only have finite resources from which to draw. People who do this are the reason governments take money out of Universities - because it's no longer seen as a good return for them.
posted by BeeJiddy at 3:25 PM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

One thing to consider if your children are going to go straight from American high schools to Australian universities is that the Universities Admissions Centre (the traditional entry mode for domestic students) may recognise their secondary results, or it may not. You might have to contact them to check.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:45 PM on March 29, 2015

I have no certainty about whether or not they'll stay in Australia after graduation

And yet your question states:

...and have them receive their university education more-or-less for free (since they'd presumably be returning to the US after graduation)

If your question was 'university tuition seems much cheaper in Australia than the US and the exchange rate is awesome as well - are my citizen kids eligible to enrol at UQ?', then that'd be a different story. But that wasn't your question at all. You later say getting a free ride isn't your 'focus', but it's literally the entirety of your question: "Does this mean...I could send them off to Australian universities and have them receive their university education more-or-less for free?"

Your intention is to rip off another country - my country. That the system used in my country is less-than-perfect and sometimes taken advantage of (your point 2 above) doesn't give you any kind of moral get-out-of-jail-free card. The people who jump ship and don't repay their HECS / HELP debts are thieving bastards whether it's legal or not. 'They should go after those other people first' is not a moral defence.

Likewise, saying 'oh, but you know, they could stay, I guess, who knows?' (your point 1 above) doesn't make it right. The outcome is irrelevant. Your intentions are clear, right now, because you took 100 words to set them out. They're bad intentions.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:05 AM on April 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

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