Cost of rent higher than student income - research

New research has found the cost of rent for students in New Zealand is outstripping their income and as the cost of living soars, they're taking on thousands of dollars in credit card debt.

Beneath the bustle of Auckland's student neighbourhood on Symonds St is a growing anxiety about the rising cost of living.

When Newshub spoke to students, they said it was extremely difficult for them to make ends meet.

One student said: "Money's just not coming from anywhere and it gets a bit hard with the bills."

Another student said: "Balancing it can be really difficult and I always feel like there's never enough."

A team at Auckland University analysed the financial data of 730 students over six months last year. 

Auckland University lecturer Dr Sereana Naepi explained what the research meant.

"The median income they're earning is the same as what they're paying in rent and that becomes a problem because how else are they paying to eat?"

The median income for students including wages, student loan living costs and allowances was $801 a month while the median cost of rent for students was $803 a month.

The Government increased the student allowance and student living costs by $25 in April but Dr Naepi said it's not enough.

"I wanted to provide the data that says these students aren't just whining, these students have a legitimate problem that we need to think about."

The research also found that credit card debt was common among students. The median credit card debt was over $1700 and some of the highest levels were among Māori students.

When the students were surveyed, the debt they owed to StudyLink included a median of $24,000 for course fees, $17,000 for living costs and $4000  for course-related costs.

Auckland Central MP Chloe Swarbrick told Newshub it's time to consider universal student allowances.

Her recent student well-being inquiry found two-thirds of students didn't have enough money to buy food.

"We've heard from politicians for a really long time now that education is a pathway out of poverty but what all of the research is showing us is that education is in fact a poverty trap."

She said students shouldn't be going backwards just so they can go forward.