FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Union welcomes student parent top-ups
Media Release: New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations
The national student union is welcoming today’s $25 per week top up for students who are parents and the extension of the accommodation supplement to solo parents who are students.
New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) president Rory McCourt says the changes are good for opportunity in New Zealand and will encourage more parents into study.
“Being a student and a parent at the same time is one of the hardest double-acts someone can do. Students have to live on less than the benefit, which adds unwanted financial stress to parents juggling course work and raising a family. This increase is a recognition that we need to back student who are parents and we welcome it.”
The Government is today also extending the accommodation supplement, which is worth up to $145 per week, to solo parents in study. NZUSA had long called for the supplement to be extended to all students and while today’s change only extends to a fraction of the student population, the union is still rapt with the change.
Mr McCourt says it will dramatically improve the lives of solo parents in study. He says "Extending the accommodation supplement to solo parents means being able to pay the rent as well as sending your child on a school trip. It means going to your tutorial rather than having to work a second job."
Currently poorer students and those over-24 can qualify for up to $40 a week of accommodation support in some cities, while most students and all postgraduate students receive no state support and instead can borrow $176 a week.
“These changes prevent the gap between benefits and student support growing even larger for those with children, but you still lose money by going into study from benefits. We know that situation puts off many of the very people who would benefit most from tertiary education.”
Mr McCourt says more needed to be done to close the gap. He says the Government should extend the in-work tax credit to student parents, and increase the amount student parents can earn before their income is abated.
Reinstating the Tertiary Incentive Allowance, which made about $4,000 available every year on top of benefits for things like childcare and course costs, would also encourage more beneficiaries into study.
The union also welcomed the general rise for all beneficiaries with children, saying liveable incomes for parents were fundamental to the educational success of their children.
“Children with warm, loving homes where there are books and money for the basics have a far better chance of getting to polytech or university. This will mean more opportunity for kids from poorer backgrounds, hopefully making our education system a little bit more equal.”