MGA Campaign: Freeze student debt!
The MGA has made a formal submission to the Senate Committee Inquiry regarding a bill that proposes to freeze existing student debt and raise the minimum repayment income to the median wage.
The MGA submitted a report to the Senate Education and Employment Committee Inquiry outlining support regarding a bill proposed by Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi. (You can read our report here.)
What is the bill, and why do we support it?
The Bill: Education and Other Legislation Amendment (Abolishing Indexation and Raising the Minimum Repayment Income for Education and Training Loans) Bill 2022
- Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi has created this bill to ease the financial pressures on students in Australia. The bill refers to all student debt and training loans (higher education (HELP), VET, trade support loans, ABSTUDY, student start-up loans).
- The Senate Committee on Education and Employment is calling for submissions for an inquiry into the bill.
- The bill aims to abolish indexation on all student loans and to raise the minimum income threshold for when people need to start repaying their student loans.
Why is it important to abolish indexation on loans and raise the minimum income threshold?
- On June, 1 2022, indexation for students loans went up by 3.9% which is higher than recent years (indexation is linked to CPI and with the rising cost of living, the indexation is higher this year than it has been for a while).
- On average, this has meant a $922 increase to student debt (this figure changes depending on individual loan amounts).
- If indexation predictions are correct, there could be a $2000+ increase to student loans in the next year or two. Indexation is expected to stay high because of inflation, so student debts will only get worse.
Minimum income threshold:
- The current threshold for mandatory repayments to begin is $48,000 per annum. This means that as soon as you start earning this amount, you have to start paying off your student loan.
- This bill seeks to raise the repayment threshold so it is in line with the median wage, which is approximately $62,400 per annum. The median wage is subject to change each year.
What have students done to make their voices heard?
The Senate Education and Employment Committee Inquiry welcomed submissions from people with student debt (and how indexation on their student loans is impacting them). Current students and anyone who has finished study and started paying back their loans were also welcome to make a submission.
The Senate Education and Employment Committee accepted submissions until late February 2023. Read what Monash PhD candidate Jonathan Robberts reported about giving evidence to the inquiry:
“I was privileged to give evidence to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the Education and Other Legislation Amendment (Abolishing Indexation and Raising the Minimum Repayment Income for Education and Training Loans) Bill 2022.
Representing the Monash Graduate Association (MGA), I am thankful for the opportunity to provide evidence at the public hearing for the inquiry.
The financial situation of graduate students is an ongoing challenge in the current economic climate with the cost of living crisis. The ever-increasing indexation on student loans and the lowered minimum payback threshold are impacting student welfare and adding to stress levels. The MGA supports this bill to abolish indexation on student loans and raise the minimum payment income.
However, there is more work to be done in this area and I urge the government to consider raising the RTP Stipend. Currently sitting at just $29,863, full-time PhD candidates are expected to live on just over two-thirds of the national minimum wage of $42,255. The current situation is not sustainable and requires urgent action.”