Housing and student allowances are the most urgent issues facing students, according to a pre-Budget wishlist released by the New Zealand Union of Students Associations (NZUSA).
NZUSA President Jonathan Gee says many students are being locked out of tertiary education as rent and the cost of living continues to rise.
"The upcoming Budget is also a chance for the Government to provide urgent relief for many students struggling to afford rent, let alone food and other basic needs," Mr Gee says.
Here is NZUSA's student Budget wishlist:
- A housing grant for all students: NZUSA want this grant to be variable to target the cities where weekly rent is consuming over 100 percent of current levels of student support
- A national First in Family scholarship: This scholarship would be targeted at families with no history of degree-level study, it aims to increase participation from underrepresented communities in tertiary education.
- Reform the 12c repayment rate on Student Loans: People with student loans must repay 12c in the dollar once they start earning $19,136, less than 60 percent of the annual salary for a minimum wage earner. NZUSA says this is unfair and it should be replaced with a progressive repayment system so that those on lower incomes pay less and have more take home pay
- Restore postgraduate allowances: Students can't receive a student allowance while taking post-graduate courses. NZUSA say this cut hurts New Zealanders who should be supported to research and innovate, and is especially significant as teaching qualifications shift to Masters level.
- Raise the parental income threshold on Student Allowance: Only 30 percent of students have access to the student allowance, which they don't have to pay pack. NZUSA wants the threshold raised so fewer students graduate with unmanageable debt
- Restore the national significance exceptions on Student Allowance: NZUSA wants an exception to the 200-week limit on allowances, by restoring a category of qualifications of national significance. They say this would support student pursuing qualifications such as medicine, optometry, dentistry and veterinary science.
- Restore full access for over-40s to Student Allowances and Allowances and Loans for over-65s: Many New Zealanders enter tertiary education later in life to upskill and retrain. Don't discriminate against them purely because of their age, NZUSA says.
- Lift the course-related costs loan cap: Course related costs have been frozen at $1000 since 1993. NZUSA wants it lifted, as students are getting into debt to pay for basics like upfront hall costs and educational materials
All will be revealed when the Government announces its Budget on Thursday this week.