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Student debt and repayment going down - Mallard

27 January 2005 Media Statement

Student debt and repayment going down - Mallard

The government's billion dollar-plus investment in tertiary education is reducing student debt and repayment times, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today in response to a NZUSA survey of students.

"This government is working very hard to make tertiary education more affordable and more accessible, and the signs are this critical investment is starting to pay off," Trevor Mallard said.

"In last year's budget we invested an extra $100 million over four years to do this, on top of more than one billion extra spent over the last four years. This has enabled us to write off interest for full-time students and low-income part-time students (saving each student an average $900 annually), through increased tuition subsidies and by stabilising fees.

"We've also widened the eligibility to allowances so at least an extra 36,000 students (from this year) will benefit - either by getting an allowance or by receiving an increased allowance.

"The results of these more recent investments will not be reflected in NZUSA's survey.

"The good news for students is that the level of borrowing each year has actually stabilised, student loan repayments are up and repayment times are reducing. Budget 2004 will reduce student loan scheme borrowing by around $20 million a year.

"Using average figures can distort the overall picture. Not many people would know that actually half of student borrowers have a loan of less than $10,000, and less than 6 percent of all borrowers had a debt over $40,000.

"What is very interesting is that the very high borrowers are the highest earners upon graduation and make the highest repayments, both absolutely and in proportion to their loans. "

The 2004 Student Loan Scheme report also shows that the forecast average repayment time has reduced to 9.3 years, down from 10.3 in June 2002.

"The government has also initiated a process of analysis designed to identify possible further changes in student support," Trevor Mallard said.

ENDS

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