15 August 2017
Better financial support is good for students and good for the country
The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) is welcoming public support for increased financial assistance for students. A Newshub-Reid Research poll released last night showed that 68% agreed that students should get more support from the Government, including 53% of National party voters.
‘All we’re asking for is enough to live on. Most students don’t get an allowance, and even when they do, it barely covers rent – let alone other basic needs,’ says National President Jonathan Gee.
Only one in three of students are eligible for the Student Allowance, which is also abated based on parental income. The maximum level of Student Allowance is $178.81, plus an Accommodation Benefit of up to $40. Students who cannot get the allowance, can instead borrow a student loan of $176.86 for living costs. It is also not enough to live on. The average rent for a room in Wellington is $200 per week, in central Auckland it is $250.
‘A third of the total student loan balance is for living costs, and it has ongoing ramifications for borrowers: deterring further study, depressing disposable income, delaying saving and home ownership.’
‘Debt has a massive impact on our future social workers, nurses, teachers and mechanics, and reducing the pressure on them has flow on benefits for everyone.’
Long repayment times means that the student loan scheme also costs the government, meaning the switch from loans to grants costs less than it first appears. There will be savings in the student loan scheme when students move from borrowing to getting a student allowance.
‘Students, their parents and their grandparents, and intending students, tell us they want enough to live while they study, to address the acute financial crisis that students currently face – and to graduate with less debt. The poll confirms that the rest of the country agrees.’
‘It’s time for all parties to respond to this call. Better financial support is good for students, and good for the country.’