30 March 2016
Women, lower income earners and recently graduated young people in regional areas like Newcastle would be hit hardest by a proposal to lower repayments thresholds for higher education loans.
The Liberal Government has confirmed that they are examining changing repayment thresholds for the Higher Education Loan Program as part of their Budget planning.
More than 27 per cent of University of Newcastle students come from low socio-economic backgrounds and already face greater financial pressure than city-based students as they are often forced to live away from home or travel long distances to attend university.
Many students would have to start repaying their students debts as soon as they enter the workforce, making it more difficult to meet daily living expenses or save for a home.
Labor has previously and will continue to reject calls for a lower repayment threshold of $30,000 or $40,000 on the grounds of fairness and impact. A threshold of $42,000, as recommended by a recent report, also fails these tests.
This latest proposal provides more uncertainty for prospective university students with the Liberal’s plans for $100,000 degrees still on the table.
The income contingent loans scheme (HECS-HELP), introduced by Labor, is based on the principle that you repay your contribution only if you benefit from your education in the way of higher salaries.
It is not a loan scheme as is understood in financial circles, but a social insurance program.
Imposing a lower threshold, or introducing a death tax by way of having the Australian Tax Office raid your estate, violates this basic principle.
Only Labor has a plan for fair, sustainable funding of universities.