READER REPORT:

Students 'punished' for parents' success

SHANI ELS
Last updated 10:41 20/12/2013
student loan
NO FREE RIDE: Students aren't eligible for an allowance until they are 25, if their parents earn too much.

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What constitutes being an adult? I always thought it was 18, then when I moved out it changed to 21, but in reality the government is telling me I am not an adult until I am 25. Personally I think that is too old.

Being a student is something to be looked forward too, moving away from home, meeting lifelong friends, maybe even finding the person you will spend the rest of your life with. The only negative is StudyLink, the student loan provider.

Starting next year I am doing my postgraduate degree, that means I have already had three years at university, three years living independently away from home, away from the comfort and snuggly support of mum and dad.

Not once in my three years of studying have I received a student allowance; I have had to apply for a living loan every year in order to pay rent, buy food and live paycheck to paycheck every week.

Why can't I qualify for the student allowance? Because my parents earn too much. Despite me living away from home, living in a different island for that matter, and not receiving any sort of support from them, their income has a direct effect on what I am eligible for; to me that is ridiculous.

Until I reach the age of 25 my parents' income will be a make or break for me in furthering my studies.

I will be paying off a student loan for what feels like eternity because, unfortunately, my parents are successful. I have a harder road to success because they are successful? That seems fair.

I am making a real effort to be better, to build a career for myself and get ahead in life. You'd think that was something that should be encouraged - yet it is getting harder and harder for people to get their head around studying because of the cost involved if you do not qualify for the allowance.

The real kicker was when I found out I needed surgery after I sustained an injury. I went to Work and Income to apply for the sickness benefit because I work casually rather than part or full time, therefore my income is not stable and ACC is unable to help me. I know a lot of people will say that if money is tight find a proper job, and that's fair. But with four papers a trimester, studying and assignments, free time for work is harder to come by than people might realise.

I went in to apply for the Jobseeker Support Student Hardship, feeling confident, with all my documents and a medical certificate from my doctor and surgeon stating that my ability to work would be hindered as a result of my operation. I was told I wasn't eligible because my parents earned too much. 

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My parents might earn more than the given amount Studylink sets for receiving the allowance, but that does not mean they are in a position to support me financially.

I am so sick of being punished because I am fortunate enough to come from a good home, with parents that have worked hard to become successful and give me and my brother the best possible life.

The day you move out is the day you become responsible for yourself and your life. If I were 25 and still relying on my parents for support I would need a reality check to get my life together.


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