Maddi Brown has a student loan of $40,000 and feels disheartened that she can't secure a degree-relevant job. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
Maddi Brown has a student loan of $40,000 and feels disheartened that she can't secure a degree-relevant job. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
Tauranga residents owe more than $300 million in student loans, new figures show.
An Inland Revenue spokeswoman said 18,500 borrowers with post codes registered to the city had a total student balance of $315 million on July 31, 2014. Nationally, $14.3 billion was outstanding including $3.1 billion owed by borrowers living overseas.
The majority of people "did the right thing and repaid loans on time," she said and while those living in New Zealand paid no interest, borrowers living off shore for more than six months were charged 5.5 per cent.
An arrest warrant could be issued as a last resort if people persistently refused to make repayment arrangements and Inland Revenue was notified if an overseas borrower with significant student loan arrears returned to New Zealand, she said.
Maddi Brown has $40,000 in student debt and said the magnitude "hasn't hit me yet".
Her debt spiralled because she was not eligible for any allowances due to the income threshold for her parents. "I ended up with a bigger loan than anyone else because it's not like my mum had a spare $20,000."
The 21-year-old studied at Victoria and Otago University and had a Degree in Communication Studies with a Minor in Media and Film but was working in an administration role in Tauranga.
Not being able to secure a career relevant to her qualification had left her disheartened, Ms Brown said.
"I don't know if worthless is quite the right word for how I am feeling. I have spent all this money and put a lot of effort into getting my degree and it's still notenough," she said.
Television or radio was her preferred vocation but she had applied for various jobs in marketing and communications but said, 'If anyone else applies with experience you're buggered'.
Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Bachelor of Sport and Recreation student Esther Richmond said she knew a few people who owed $50,000 in fees, had degrees and continued to study because they could not get jobs. "I think that is completely ridiculous and now they are in their 30s. I didn't want to be one of those people."
The 19-year-old said a scholarship covered her first year of fees and she had a student loan of $6500 to cover this year.
However, the student ambassador had a job and planned to pay it off quickly.
Emma Brown said her student loan was about $8000.
The Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Diploma in Tourism student said she knew people that had done studies and did not have a job two years later. It was wise to target careers in growth industries, she said. "I believe there are big opportunities in tourism and it contributes a lot to the New Zealand economy."
The part-time waitress hopes to go to Auckland next year and wants to pay off her loan before she leaves.
But if the Internet Mana Party was elected to government next Saturday it plans to push to scrap fees and pay a universal student allowance.
Internet party leader Laila Harre said the scheme would cost about $1.2 billion a year and was a matter of priorities not affordability.
National's Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment spokesman Steven Joyce said its policy on student loans and student support would stay in place.
It would be unfair to ask other taxpayers to pay the full cost of their tertiary study, he said.
Green Party adviser Holly Donald said it would retain interest free student loans and review levels of student support including student allowances, living costs and the accommodation benefit.
Labour Party teritary education spokesperson Maryan Street said it would review all student support including loans, allowances and accommodation support and scholarships.
Students were the only group that are required by society to borrow to live, she said.