The Christchurch Press reported this week on a Canterbury University PhD study that shows student’s expectations about student debt are out of step with the reality of tertiary study.
School leavers surveyed in the study estimated their mean student expenditure per year would be $12,209 much less than the actual $19,610. The school pupils expected on average to achieve an annual income as students of $11,974 per year an over-estimation of some $5157. Pupils also underestimated how much debt they would take on by $5633.
The Canterbury University PhD study by Steve Haultain said students were not fully informed about the real costs of taking out a student loan and the options available.
Meanwhile Canterbury University Students’ Association president Steve Jukes said people don’t really have a concept of debt any more.
“It’s treated as being socially acceptable to be in debt and to not be concerned with that. It’s a way of life.”
An Auckland University of Technology study last year said that while average student debt levels increased by 67 per cent between 1995 and 2004, income levels for first-year graduates increased by only 19 per cent over the same period.
Since their introduction in 1992, student loans have become the largest non-housing debt category for New Zealand households, according to a report by FaceTheRed.com.
Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan said university students were difficult to reach for financial education.
“It’s sort of intriguing to think that you can get a student loan with no advice or support,” Crossan said.