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Massive student debt increase since 2004

New research shows massive student debt increase since 2004

Average student debt[1] has risen by 54 percent since 2004 and is now $28,838 according to major new research released today by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).

Other main findings of the research are:
- Average student debt is over 147 percent higher than in 1998
- Students are looking beyond the student loan scheme, to bank loans, overdrafts, and credit cards to pay for essential living costs
- Core living costs (food, accommodation, transport) have increased significantly
- 88 percent of students consider that student loans will impact on their ability to buy a house

“For the majority of students, living expenses now far out weigh their income levels and they are forced to borrow to live,” says Paul Falloon, Co-President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA). “Government policy is still ignoring the key drivers of student debt.”

The drivers of student debt include continual increases in tuition fees and basic costs of living. For example average accommodation costs have increased from $116 per week to $142 per week in the last three years.

“The problem is obvious. The percentage of students with access to a student allowance is just 37% and of those, the average student allowance is now only $70 per week. 90% of full-time students now also undertake some form of paid work yet many can’t make ends meet” said Falloon.

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“Our research shows the student allowance scheme and the rules governing eligibility are completely out of line with the current financial demands on students. In this election year all parties must address the real financial issues facing students.”

The research was carried out by TNS Conversa and has been conducted every three years since 1994 following the introduction of the student loan scheme in 1992. It details the financial and socio-economic situation of students at polytechnics and universities throughout New Zealand and provides the most comprehensive picture of the destructive impact of user-pays education.


[1] Average Student Debt includes debt from Student Loan, Bank overdraft, Personal bank loan, Loans from parents and family, Credit card and Other loans/debt such a hire purchase, but excludes Mortgages

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