Will Budget 2017 leave a sour taste for students?

Students receiving an allowance will see an extra $20 in their pockets, but a national student leader says Budget 2017 offers nowhere near enough for young people at universities.

A boost to the accommodation supplement has been announced, and will take effect in April 2018 but only for students who are eligible for the student allowance.

National Union of Students Associations President Jonathan Gee is underwhelmed by the Budget and says "There's not much to say, because there's only one point for students."

While the raise to the accommodation supplement is welcomed, Mr Gee says it's "something of a sweetener, but it doesn't go far enough."

"It's a welcome relief that there's been some significant increase to accommodation benefits, but three quarters of students miss out because they're not eligible."

Changes to the accommodation benefit will take effect in April 2018:

  • 30 percent of students have access to the student allowance, which they don't have to pay back
  • Eligible students in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will see a $20 increase to their accommodation supplement
  • For those in areas with lower accommodation costs like Hamilton and Palmerston North the maximum rate will be lower
  • 41,000 students will be impacted, of those 26,000 are in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch

"There's still a very, very big strain of housing costs for students," Mr Gee says.

NZUSA want the Government to introduce a housing grant for all students, and Mr Gee says the Budget offers nothing to those struggling with student loan repayments or even gaining access to tertiary education.

Currently, people with student loans must repay 12c in the dollar once they start earning $19,136.

"It acknowledges some of the housing pressures that students face but forgets what the core issue is here, that so many potential students are being locked out of tertiary education," Mr Gee says.

NZUSA wants a national First in Family scholarship to increase participation from underrepresented communities in tertiary education.

Newshub spoke to students on campus at Victoria University of Wellington to get their reaction to the Budget.

Many were happy to see an extra bit of money, but for others it wasn't enough.

"No, definitely not, but I'll take what I can get," one student says.

She said her student allowance just covered her rent, not including food or other expenses.

Another student said that any extra money was welcomed, "Any money is just a help, it doesn't matter how much it is really."

"Some students just can't even afford to catch the bus and stuff like that...sometimes students can't even afford to come to uni."

For those who aren't eligible for the student allowance and are instead borrowing their living costs, things aren't so sweet.

"If they did that for living costs I'd vote for National," another student told Newshub.


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