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Student debt level a national disgrace

19 October 2006
Student debt level a national disgrace

The prediction that total student debt will be $12.7 billion by 2014/15 in the Student Loan Scheme Annual Report tabled in Parliament today is a grave reminder of the disservice being done to the current generation of students and graduates, Green Party Education Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

The figures also show that the total amount borrowed increased from $7.5 billion in the 2004/05 financial year up to $8.37 billion last year.

"This is disastrous news for New Zealand," Mrs Turei says.

"We are saddling an entire generation with crippling debt that could impact on all areas of their lives, and it is only going to get worse unless we act now.

"The Government needs to ask itself if it is fair that the same generation that will be required to pick up the slack if we fail to meet our Kyoto targets is also being prevented from entering the housing market, or even starting to save and invest, until they have paid off massive student loans.

"The Government's interest-free loans policy was a good start, but with tertiary fees rising by an average of 4 percent each year and the majority of students ineligible for a student allowance, the level of student debt is going to continue to rise and rise in the foreseeable future.

"We need to stop being so short-sighted and selfish and start to reverse the student debt trend now. This means more than just writing-off interest. It means writing actual capital off the loan balance of students who stay and contribute to New Zealand, and it means a universal student allowance so that students are no longer the only group who are forced to borrow money to meet the basic necessities of life.

"We urge the Government to take this matter seriously and implement these policies before the problem gets any worse," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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