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Individual Student Debt Level Tops $130,000

"The high level of student debt in this country is still of huge public concern," said Sam Huggard, Co President of the New Zealand University Students Association (NZUSA).

He was commenting on figures just released to APSU and NZUSA under the official information act that show that the highest student loan account currently held by the IRD is between $130,000 and $140,000.

The figures also show that the percentage of students and graduates in higher debt brackets is increasing. In all the debt level brackets of over $20,000, there were increases from the June 1999 figures.

"The government has begun to address student debt, by removing interest on student loans for full time and low income part-time students. However removing interest alone will not curtail the growing debt mountain. The core causes of debt - fees and the lack of a universal living allowance - must be addressed in the upcoming Budget.

"The high levels of student debt are an impediment to participation in tertiary education, and are leaving borrowers with an unmanageable debt burden as they enter the workforce. The student loan scheme must be scrapped," concluded Sam Huggard.

Students in some cities are today protesting at the high level of student debt, and the lack of universal living allowances, with marches, pickets and education days in Hamilton, Wellington and Otago.

Ends.

For further comment:

Sam Huggard,

NZUSA Co President

025 86 86 73

04 498 2500


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