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Families suffer the effects of Student Debt

Families suffer the effects of Student Debt

The Aotearoa Tertiary Students Association (ATSA) said today that recently released research findings on “Women and Student Debt” show that the student loan scheme is having negative effects on families. The majority (56%) of respondents in our study indicated that their student debt had negative effects on their families. “Student debt is not just an individual problem – it is increasingly becoming a strain on the entire family of those with a student loan,” said Julie Pettett, ATSA National President.

One respondent reported that she was barely able to pay her child’s school fees and had no savings due to repaying her loan debt. Others were concerned about their student debt in the future when they will need to help their children, as well as look after their parents.

“How are these people, generation debt, going to save for their retirement?” Asks Pettett “The reality is that they will not! Not only will they suffer, but their children and families will suffer with them. We cannot allow this to continue.”

Respondents in the ATSA study saw the negative effects of student debt on their families as falling into four main areas: general stress, less money for family needs, the need for parents to provide financial assistance, and parental guilt. Nearly half of respondents who reported negative effects on their family, listed general stress as the major impact.

“By restricting eligibility to allowances and requiring students to borrow to pay their fees and living costs, we are placing families in a no-win situation. They can either encourage their children to take out a loan, knowing they may never pay it back, or they can try to assist their children and struggle financially themselves. This is no real choice,” stated Pettett.

“Most families who are supporting a family member in tertiary education will not have the ability to pay over $10,000 a year towards the cost of study. Student Debt places stress on families who have little disposable income, and once family members have finished studying, the added stress of a large debt hanging over their heads.”

“ATSA will be doing everything we possibly can to help families. We encourage politicians who claim to be ‘family friendly’ to make student debt a priority and take notice of ATSA recommendations”.

(Copies of the ATSA Report “The Lived Experiences of Women and Student Debt” are available from the ATSA National Office for a small fee. Email mailto: for a copy).

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