Australian Universities Say Some Students Can Expect To Be In Debt For 20 Years

Nick Easter pulls a weight sled during the England training and weights in 2011. David Rogers/Getty Images

New modelling shows Australian students can look forward to a couple of decades in debt paying back loans for undergraduate degrees.

The payback period for a four year professional degree such as Law will stretch from 14 years now to 20 to 25 years, depending on which university you choose.

And a three year degree which takes 10 to 11 years to pay off now will, under the budget cuts, take about 14 years to put to bed.

Universities Australia, which represents 39 universities, has done some scary modelling on the debt students will acquire from 2016 when cuts to higher education announced in the federal budget come into force.

Two things are changing: federal funding for degrees is being cut and the interest rate charged for loans to pay for fees is rising.

In short, students will pay more for the courses and will have to deal with a higher interest rate to borrow money to pay for education.

Universities Australia says the average increase will be 29% bringing the annual cost of a degree to about $10,000 a year. This is similar to other modelling done by individual universities.

There’s a lot of highs and lows within that average cost.

Take for example, someone who does a four-year engineer degree which currently costs about $37,319. Under the existing system it will take 14 years to repay (with a total repayment of $46,701).

Under University Australia calculations, this will rise to $59,024 for the lowest fee university to $63,455 for the highest.

For a graduate who gets a starting income of $56,000 which rises to $80,000 in the third year of employment, it will take 20 years to pay off the debt. Total repayment will be $94,372.

Under the high fee paying scenario, it will take the graduate 21 years to repay a HELP debt of $103,611.

And it gets worse if the interest rate rises. The rate is currently the inflation rate but will move to the ten year government bond rate from 2016.

With a 6% interest rate, the high fee paying student will take 25 year to pay off the debt. Total repayments are $148,382 including $84,927 interest.

From 2016, the cheapest nursing degree would rise 24.1%, cost $24,067 and take 13 years to pay off. Under the current system it takes about 11 years to repay.

Interestingly, the modelling shows two degrees which could be bargains.

This is Humanities and Mathematics. Both show minimum annual student contributions falling under the new scheme from 2016 with Humanities down 7% to $5,870 and Mathematics down 24% to $6,821.

All other degrees show an increase in student contributions with Environmental Studies at the top of the list with a 110% increase to $18,863 a year.

Here’s the full estimates by Universities Australia:

Now Read: The Cost Of Getting A University Degree In Australia Is About To Change: Here’s What You Need To Know

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