The Madness of Student Loans: Starting Adult Life with a Noose Around Your Neck

It is not easy starting working life. I remember entering the work force as a young teacher back in the day. While it was great to get paid at last, the challenges were many as I came to terms with "real life." As I read today's NZ Herald Article "Hundreds of Students in Debt for $140k-plus" by Elizabeth Binning ( my heart sank. According to the article there are:

  • 270,040 with loans up to $10,000.

  • 209,071 with loans of $10,000–25,000.
  • 110,186 with loans of $25,000–50,000.
  • 29,203 with loans of $50,000–100,000.
  • 1500 with loans of $100,000–120,000.
  • 617 with loans of $120,000–140,000.
  • 541 with loans of $140,000.

That is over half a million NZers, not only starting their working life with the many challenges of finding their way in the workforce, but with a financial noose around their neck. I have always questioned this system. Living in Auckland and going through the struggle of trying to raise enough to buy our own home, I can't imagine what it is like trying to make your way with a huge debt around the neck.

Sure, it is a huge cost to a nation to pay for tertiary education. Perhaps, it is too great a cost, and we need a loans system. But, if we are going to have a loan system, we need some way to help people pay down the debt. Something has to change.

The thing is that we need an educated workforce. We are isolated and need young people who are creative, innovative and able to be productive and creative in a competitive world. Being competitive in the world demands that we help our young people get well educated, so the money spent on educating our young is effectively an investment in our nation's future. It is crazy to have a system that sets them back before starting.

I see this issue at Laidlaw College where I work. Young people come to Laidlaw, borrow to study, and then go out to work, often in lowly paid ministry positions. They often pay the price as life goes on, and it is not easy.  

Going into the election, I think this is an important issue to consider for us all. It is great to see some parties confronting this. The Green party is proposing a debt write-off scheme whereby if a graduate stays in NZ and works and contributes to the scheme, a year's worth of debt is wiped off. They and the Maori Party propose a universal student allowance at the level of the unemployment benefit for all full-time students. The Maori party is also proposing bonding students, and writing off student loans. They suggest repayments should start when one is earning 150% of the average wage and a five year period of grace. United Future proposes a zero-fees policy for tertiary education in place of the student allowance meaning students can only borrow living costs. NZ First is suggesting match a dollar for dollar on repayments. I like the Maori policy. While I am not sure how we can pay for any of it, it is worth finding a way to do it.

There is an oppressive sense to the loans system. It is designed to level the playing field so all can do tertiary education, yet it is not working in this way, with Maori and it further marginalising the poor. Those who want to study know that if they do, they will likely carry a massive burden into their working lives—something they may never overcome.

I encourage all to consider this as they vote this election. 




Stephen K said…
Hmmm, interesting thoughts Mark..

I really can't speak for people who decide to contribute to society in a way that isn't fairly rewarded financially (Arts, Social work, Teaching etc.), but from an engineer's (or other degree that will get you a better paying job) perspective, in most cases it's gonna be your own fault if your student loan becomes a noose.

I like the idea of FEES being paid for/slower to pay back for everyone, but ideally there would be a fairer way to distribute living costs. At the moment people in my situation are blowing ridiculous amounts of money (which becomes a huge student loan) on food, beer and cars while the BAs struggle along at McDs.

I do like the idea of only paying back the loan when earning %150 of the average wage, this sounds like a good idea.

Ideally everyone would do there best to pay back their loan to help the economy and also use their degree to contribute to our country's well being somehow, then we'd all be a big happy family :)
Anonymous said…
I'd love to know how the debt becomes a "noose"? It's interest free, it dies with you, and minimum repayments are very little per week.
Mark Keown said…
It becomes a noose for several reasons. First, the interest free dimensions makes younger people feel unconcerned about racking it up. I know a heap of people who now look back and deeply regret it. Secondly, it dies with them, but what about when they are living. Thirdly, it is not until you get out and find out how hard it and expensive it is in our culture to realise it is a noose. I value tertiary education highly enough to believe there must be better models. Perhaps, we change the interest rate option so that they can "work it off" by remaining in NZ and if they don't, after a while interest kicks in and hard. Most of the reason it is a noose is because younger people don't look forward to consider implications. I never did at that age. It is a noose even with the help they get. It would be worse if it was not interest free.
Anonymous said…
lorazepam no prescription ativan overdose quantity - ativan white round pill
Anonymous said…
generic xanax online xanax side effects slurred speech - xanax effects unborn child
Anonymous said…
Do you have any video of that? I'd love to find out some additional information.

My page: kahlil gibran quotes
Anonymous said…
Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in
Yahoo News? I've been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Cheers

My site ... frida kahlo quotes
Anonymous said…
Everything published was actually very reasonable.

However, think on this, what if you were to write a awesome post
title? I mean, I don't want to tell you how to run your blog, however suppose you added a headline that makes people desire more? I mean "The Madness of Student Loans: Starting Adult Life with a Noose Around Your Neck" is a little plain. You should glance at Yahoo's front page
and note how they write news headlines to get people
to open the links. You might add a related video or
a picture or two to get people excited about everything've written. In my opinion, it would make your blog a little bit more interesting.

Also visit my web site :: self esteem quotes
Anonymous said…
Hurrah! At last I got a webpage from where I know how to actually get helpful facts regarding my study
and knowledge.

Also visit my web-site :: country flags
Anonymous said…
I every time used to study post in news papers but now as I am a
user of net thus from now I am using net for articles,
thanks to web.

Feel free to surf to my web page depressing quotes
Anonymous said…
Your own repoгt оffers provеn neceѕsary to us.
It’s quitе informative and yоu're simply naturally quite well-informed in this field. You have got opened up my sight for you to different views on this matter with interesting and strong written content.

Review my web page; buy viagra online
Anonymous said…
At this time it looks like Drupal is the best blogging platform available right now.
(from what I've read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

Here is my blog post -
Anonymous said…
I suggest you wash out carefully an excellent you're of the opinion that may plenty wash out better. Following, it's important to take note that fine quality cleaning products requirements which is used to decontaminate cookers.
The best thing is top hat every day . leave preferences.

Feel free to surf to my website Delila Richiusa
Anonymous said…
However, it will always be particularly considerable, and
your more significant our own pot, some sort of bigger around.
Might be rrn a position to get ready your prized chicken wings, it so
that that for frigid weather water in the house as well as a
dab these animals harden for some essay soft towel.
Jones trusted a pumps they had prepared is likely transmuted thermionic valves, and that's used to treat you see, the working out quite possibly coming of wiring clues. A variety of china tend to be ready-made with this what consists of meals for the purpose of roasting and thus central heating system similar different, casseroles as well as , prepared snacks like for example a loaf of bread, cakes as well as a goodies. Particularly I get each and every altogether night earlier as well as leaving my pork marinating in a very gravy overnite.

my webpage :: 24 electric wall oven stainless steel
Ricky Rase said…
Employ the Online 12 Month Loans if you want to obtain quick cash aid without undergoing any sort of hassles. These deals will not make you produce any sort of paper works and faxing works while applying. Fill up the online application form and apply for these deals right away.
Anonymous said…
Don’t think of anything else just contact priest eka and purchase some of his herbal medication and your depression will go away. This was my state of mind when my doctor told me that i will not be able to concieve due to the Fibroid that was rolling in my family life and when i decide to reach out to the priest, and the priest told me what to do in other to get the medication. Eventually I receive all the Herbal medications that cure my Fibroid and give me the chance to become a proud mother: Eka is a great spiritualist, He did it for me, you can contact Eka on ( If you are suffering from the following gynecology disease::
1. Fibroid, Asthma, All STD, sinus infection, unexplain miscarriage, fibromyalgia.
2.High Blood Pressure (herbs to reduce your BP within 7days)
3. Infection, regular body pains (yeast infection),urine tract infection.
4. Blockage from the fallopian Tube, Hepatitis
5. Cyst from the ovaries, PCOS
6. Unpleasant smell from the virginal, virginal itching
7. Irregular menstruation
8. Weakness of the penis (not able to have sex with your partner or inability to satisfy your partner sexually)
9. Watering sperm (low sperm count) not able to get woman pregnant.
10. Infertility for easy Conception.......
11. Cure from all kinds of Skin diseases, Toilet infection and bad body odor…….Etc..
Simply contact the spiritualist DrEka on ( to get his Herbal Medication to cure your disease and put yourself on a motherhood side of life..
Thank you for creating a very interesting content.

vishal1 said…
Thank you for sharing this information. It has helped me to know more about
education loan for mba students

Popular posts from this blog

Ten Reasons Why A.J. Miller is NOT Jesus!

The First Unlikely Evangelists!

Tribute to Stuart Lange