Sunday, May 29, 2005

10 Point Plan to Boost Student Support

United Future's 10 Point Plan to Boost Student Support

1. Access to Allowances

Ensure that students are given equal treatment to young people on the dole by progressively lowering the age at which they are means tested for a student allowance based on their own income, and not their parents, from 25 to 20.
Assess the eligibility of married students under 25 for student allowances based on their own income, not their parents'.
Assess the eligibility for student allowances of students under 25 who have supported themselves for two years based on their own income, not their parents'.

2. Parental Income

Calculate parental income for student allowances by deducting $3000 for every other child in the family that is in study.

3. Accommodation Support

Ensure that students are fairly treated by increasing the accommodation supplement to match that received by young people on the dole.

4. Interest Payments

Recognise the impact of student loan debt on raising a family by freezing interest and writing off a portion of the debt of parents for two years after the birth of a child.
Ensure that the student loan interest rate is set at a level which is fair and meets the costs of running the scheme, and retain the present policy of no interest while studying.

5. Loan Write-Offs & Debt Reduction

Keep graduates in New Zealand and minimise their loan debt by establishing scholarships and loan write-off schemes for those who are qualified in fields facing shortages (e.g. doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers), in return for a continuous period of work in New Zealand.
Allow students to reduce their debt if they work for more than 100 hours as a volunteer for a registered charity (up to a maximum of $500 per annum).

6. Access to Emergency Unemployment Benefit

Restore access to the Emergency Unemployment Benefit for students unable to find work over summer period.

7. Scholarships

Establish a system of scholarships between tertiary providers and the private sector.

8. Voluntary Savings Scheme

Introduce a voluntary long-term savings programme that would allow parents to save for their children's future tertiary education from birth, drawing on contributions from relatives, the child him/herself, and appropriate incentives from the government.

9. Restrictions on Borrowing
Restrict students from borrowing more in student loans for their fees if they have continually failed to pass their courses.

10. Long-term Research

Commission research into the long-term impact of student loan debt on the life choices of graduates

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