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READER REPORT:

Me and my $100k student loan

DOLLY DEAN
Last updated 05:00 21/05/2013

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I am 32 years old. I live in Australia. I have a degree, a small child and a student loan debt of over $100,000. When I finished university it was about $58,000 and with compounding interest it has ballooned to the horrific and unmanageable figure you see above.

I want to pay it off, but with the compounded interest it is impossible. I have no income and don't expect to work for another five years, by which time my debt will be about $150,000. It is now generating interest in the region of $160 a week.

This has affected every facet of my life. Now let's add to that the recent announcement that I may be arrested if I try to return to New Zealand.

I have negotiated my loan repayment with IRD to $0. This means that every year I am out of work I do not have any minimum repayments and, therefore, I am no longer classed as a defaulter. However, short of winning Lotto (I couldn't afford a ticket anyway) I am out of options.

I never intended to leave New Zealand permanently. After I graduated with a double degree and mediocre marks in 2005, I found myself washing dishes in a restaurant with a 15-year-old kitchenhand for three months so that I could be free to look for jobs during the day. I could have taken a benefit during this time but I chose to work. Thus, after a day of particularly bad job hunting that finished with finding an email from IRD that my loan was now ready to be repaid, I realised I had two options: Return to university for further study, namely teachers' college, or a law degree, or leave. I took myself, my newly minted degrees, borrowed some money for a flight to Sydney and barely looked back.

Retrospectively, I should have and wish I had made more of an effort to make payments in the first few years. However, at the time, I needed every cent I made for travel and living expenses (Sydney rent!). I always intended to return to New Zealand but I met my husband, got married, had a child and I am now entirely supported by my husband and what little he makes.

My position is unenviable and desperate, and I pray that my son will not have to pay for the choices that led to his life.

Don't hate me. Don't do what I did.


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