A raft of changes to the student loan scheme has been announced, including increasing the repayment rate from 10 per cent to 12, removing the voluntary repayment bonus, freezing the parental income threshold for student allowances and removing allowances for postgraduate study.
Michelle Duff spoke to Victoria University students in different stages of study to see how it would affect them.
Faran Gillbanks, 35, from Upper Hutt
Bachelor in Architectural Studies, first year of five-year degree
Loan balance around $20,000
Supports the changes to the scheme. "I live in Upper Hutt, and I notice a lot of people milking the system and taking advantage to get welfare, the same happens with student loans.
"I think cracking down on this is a good thing, and will only serve to benefit the Budget. I think anyone who tries to leave the country and has a loan of more than $30,000 should have their passport taken and not be allowed to leave the country."
Mr Gillbanks previously studied business at Massey before stopping to have a family and choosing architecture instead.
Julia Whaipooti, 24, from Gisborne
Bachelor of Law, in fourth year of five-year degree
Loan balance around $30,000
Thinks the changes are counterintuitive. "Coming from a privileged position in life the doors remain open for higher education, but not for people who come from my position in life.
"For Maori that closes the door further, which is counterintuitive because education is a way to break out of cycles and create opportunities."
She had planned to take advantage of the 10 per cent discount for voluntary repayments, which had now been scrapped. Ms Whaipooti worked fulltime for two years to save up for university, but even then it has been difficult.
Amanda Thomas, 25, from Christchurch
PhD in geography, final year
Loan balance: More than $70,000
Describes changes to allowance eligibility as disgusting. "It makes postgrad study far less accessible. Student loans were justified on the basis of creating diversity.
"These changes are going to make university way less accessible and that's a bad thing."
She will consider going overseas when she is finished. "I have to, if I want the career I want."
Has worked part-time but had to borrow living costs until she turned 24 and qualified for the student allowance.
"Without living costs and working part-time jobs I wouldn't have been able to live."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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