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Maharey cuts loans waiting time

Students will be able to access their loans funds faster from next week because the Government has decided to relax a seven-day 'cooling off' period, the Minister of Social Services and Employment, Steve Maharey, announced today.

Mr Maharey signed an order yesterday authorising WINZ to release the living costs and course-related costs components of loans to students immediately upon the approval of their application. The change comes into effect from next Thursday (March 8). Mr Maharey said he had decided to relax the cooling off period so that students facing delays in getting their loans approved got access to funds as soon as possible.

"I have been concerned about reports of students facing financial hardship because of delays by WINZ in processing their loans. Relaxing the 'cooling off' period is a simple and practical way of getting money to students facing hardship.

"The order I signed yesterday will mean that thousands of students will now get their living expenses and course-related funds a week earlier than was previously possible.

"Students will still have the right to cancel their loans and return the advanced funds during what was the seven-day cooling off period. WINZ will cover the administrative costs of any such decision.

"I also considered advancing the tuition fee component of loans to tertiary institutions immediately a loan was approved. However because of the administrative complexities involved in retrieving loan money which has already been paid to institutions I decided against this.

"I inherited this loans processing mess from the previous National Government. Since I have been the Minister I have taken every opportunity available to give students practical help over this difficult enrolment period. I will also be conducting an evaluation of how well WINZ handled loans processing once students are all back on campus so that we don't face this problem again", Steve Maharey said.

Contact: Michael Gibbs, Press Secretary, (04) 471 9154 or (025) 270 9115.

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