Student Debt

Student debt – apparently a National Party objective is to reduce student debt to assist in reaching their 2014-2015 surplus target. Joke. By reducing the number of persons entitled to student allowances reduces only the amount that the taxpayer contributes to assist students while they study. Reality – more students are forced to take out the ‘living costs component’ of the student loan scheme to cover the cost of living while they study, which means larger loans and consequently – larger student debt. The government then forces students to payback the loan at a higher rate, noting that with the student allowance and a student loan at a 10% payback rate is manageable but when a student is forced to payback 12% of their earnings on a larger loan this becomes unmanageable – the debt lasts for longer because the loan is bigger. The government is effectively saying ‘we know we’re making you borrow more (thereby increasing student debt), so to attain our 2014-2015 target we’re also going to make you payback more! Notwithstanding that students signed binding contracts of a 10% payback rate and relied on that in their undertaking of a student loan. The government is not reducing student debt, instead it is reducing the amount of money it is willing to put into tertiary education and forcing students to take out larger loans to pay for their own living costs, so increasing the actual student debt bill. Noting, that these are people willing to upskill to and attain work, while many of the unemployed retain their unemployment benefits without that tenacity to upskill. National complain about the ‘brain drain’ in NZ with so many leaving for better opportunities and wages overseas, particularly Australia. But it is unlikely their policies on student debt are going to retain the knowledge the economy so desperately requires. Graduates are already struggling to find work – there is none. And if they are unable to continue on to Post-Graduate studies (on the basis that they have to borrow more) to beef up their chances then where to from there?