Between 1989 and 2004, the Australian University system was increasingly financed through a tuition fee and loans scheme referred to as the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS). This research explores perceptions of the HECS as reported by 346 current and former students carrying HECS liabilities in an online survey conducted in 2004-05. Their reported perceptions of the HECS were considered against representations of the scheme as 'fair and equitable' by policy makers and in official documentation. These representations comprised the data for an informational analysis (Bell 1973; Castells 1996) of the HECS debt contracting and repayment processes. The findings of informational asymmetry and inadequacy continue to be valid — perhaps even more so in the context of the introduction in 2005 of the Higher Education Loans Program (HELP).