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Student Loan Debt Hits $5 Billion

Total student debt has reached $5 billion this February according to government figures released today by the New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA).

“$5 billion is yet another negative milestone in the history of student loans. 2002 is also the tenth anniversary of the student loan scheme. With student debt increasing by a billion dollars a year, it is time for the government to enact major changes to the loan scheme,” said Campbell.

“The government will be presenting options for the loan scheme in a discussion document due in May. NZUSA believes that there are five billion reasons why the scheme requires a major overhaul,” said Campbell.

Research released earlier this year by NZUSA showed that the average student debt had increased by 50% since 1996 and that only 1 in 10 students are now debt free.

“The reality is that the overwhelming majority of students now have to incur substantial debt to get an education. The loan scheme impacts on all sectors of New Zealand society with future consequences likely to create workforce shortages and decreasing birth rates”, said Campbell.

“If decisive action is not taken to address the primary drivers of debt; high fees and lack of living allowances, student debt will continue to snowball. 2002 is an election year and a good opportunity for all political parties to make investment in tertiary education their number one priority”, said Campbell.

Please note that there will be activities at Otago University today to mark the 10th anniversary of the loan scheme and student debt reaching $5 billion. Activities start at 1p.m outside the registry building.

ENDS

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