A Newshub/Reid Research poll found this week that 68 per cent of those surveyed supported the idea that the Government increase the maximum amount of student loan or student allowance that students are entitled to. This number included 53 per cent of National voters polled.
National president of the NZUSA Jonathan Gee said that the increase in the amount available is essential, in order to keep pace with the increasing price of living, particularly in New Zealand’s major cities. According to the NZUSA, about 1 in 3 students in this country are entitled to student allowance payments, which aren’t added to a student’s debt.
The maximum weekly student allowance amount that a student is entitled to is $178.81, which can be topped up by a maximum accommodation supplement of up to $40. The maximum weekly student loan living costs payment that a student is entitled to is $176.86.
Jonathan and the NZUSA say this ignores the reality of living in New Zealand’s cities. The average rent for a room in Wellington is – according to the NZUSA – $200 per week, and in Auckland it’s $250 per week. That’s before the other costs associated with living are factored in. That, says Jonathan Gee, means many students have a hard time affording the basic necessities of life and study.
“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 Gee.
“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.
“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.”