Debt Casebook - Reality Check For Bradford
As Student Associations around the country gear up for a public awareness campaign on burgeoning student debt today the APSU Student Union and New Zealand University Students Association have released the long awaited Student Debt Casebook.
"This research shows that debt has impacted on peoples long term life decisions," said Co-president of NZUSA Karen Skinner. " People see it as a hindrance to obtaining mortgages, saving for retirement, doing further study and even getting involved in relationships."
"It is time the government was held accountable for their lack of action in addressing a major social problem," said Skinner. "New Zealanders have their heads buried in the sand, this problem is not about to go away. Each year more and more people are forced into debt in order to get an education. Each year more and more qualified people flee the country in order to escape the unduly harsh regime that is the Student Loan Scheme."
John Barkess, President of APSU Student Union is calling on the government to pay attention to the reality of this research. "In the Debt Casebook are the stories of real peoples lives and the hidden reality of student debt."
Information contained in the Debt Casebook was compiled by circulating questionnaires among professional bodies such as the New Zealand Educational Institute and the Law Association.
Examples of the depth of feeling among ex-students include comments such as;
"Scary. Once out of Uni one realises the impossibility of paying off so much money, especially when it is increasing at$3000 p.a. in interest." (Male, 22 years old, borrowed $32,000 by end 1998, currently owes $32,000)
"Students do not fully realise how much they will be paying back in interest when they get a loan" (Female, 27 years old, borrowed $10,000)
Other features of concern were the time it would take to repay the debt, if ever, and the affect the debt was having on ex-students lives…
"I will pay it back at the minimum amount possible because I am opposed to the scheme and it's all I can afford… it's a joke! I will retire before it's paid off." (Female, 38 years old, 1 child, borrowed $42,849 at end 1996. Now owes $40,805.)
"I'm taking it to the grave with me. I've given up caring/worrying about it. I'm hoping a government in the future will make some drastic changes." (Male, age not given, borrowed $36,000 end 1995, now owes $37,000)
"One company worked it into the calculations when we applied for a mortgage. Consequently we don't have one." (Female, 25 years old, borrowed $8,000 by the end 1995)
"Because it affects my financial position I had to get my parents to help out as guarantor etc. when getting a mortgage from the bank. It is a little humiliating at 32 years of age to have your parents co-sign a loan." Female, 32 years old, borrowed $8,000 by end 1994)
There were positive comments about the scheme as well although these were few and far between…
"A good idea [the Student Loan Scheme] because education is too expensive, we need help to get through." (Female, 24 years old, borrowed $20,000)
"It was good. If it hadn't been around I wouldn't have been able to go to Uni and Teachers College." (Female, 24 years old, borrowed $30,000)
"This research is something the Ministry of Education has said can't be done," said Barkess. "We maintain the National Government has not asked them to do a macro economic analysis of the effect of student loan debt as they are afraid of the results. They know the scheme is out of control but it appears they have placed it in the too hard basket."