More needed to back up no interest while studying
Students have welcomed the government announcement that $240 million in interest charges on student loans has been
written off and are calling on the government to take further steps to make the loan scheme fairer.
"The no interest on student loans policy was a good start, but students and graduates are waiting for further changes to
make the loans scheme fairer and address the one of the key drivers of high student debt - lack of access to living
allowances," said Fleur Fitzsimons, Co-President of the New Zealand University Students' Association.
"It's only fair that current students do not pay market interest rates to the government," said Fitzsimons. "But if more
students had access to living allowances, there would not have been such huge amounts borrowed and less interest for
government to write off."
"Labour has now been in government for four years and student debt has doubled in that time. A living allowance for all
students is well overdue and would ensure that students do not have to borrow from the loan scheme to pay for basics
like food and accommodation."
"Interest write offs were a good first move for Labour in 1999 but the Government has had four years to back this policy
up with further improvements," said Fitzsimons. "How long do students and their families have to wait for increased
access to allowances?'