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Student debt up, up and away

Student debt up, up and away

The National Party says it's clear Tertiary Education Minister Steve Maharey has lost control of soaring student debt.

Commenting on the release today of the Student Loan Scheme annual report, National's Tertiary Education spokesman Simon Power says it's not surprising that total student debt has rocketed up $620 million in the last financial year.

"Steve Maharey is quick to try and claim credit for a fall in long term projected debt levels, but the simple fact is student debt has grown every year since Labour came in.

"The average balance of student loans is now $13,680 - up 8.2 per cent on last year. The number of borrowers is also on the rise - totalling more than 150 thousand last year, compared with 115-thousand in 1999.

"And today's figures show they borrowed an average of $6204 in 2002, up from an average of $4917 in 1999.

"When will the Government finally see that its interest-free policy is just causing more and more students to rack up hefty debt?" asks Mr Power.

"Steve Maharey is clearly bereft of answers - even producing the Student Support Review a year late didn't give him enough space to come up with a solution to the student debt crisis.

"Instead, he's tried to grasp any straw he can from the report and ignore a staggering debt of $5.3 billion," says Mr Power.

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