HELP debtors up for $61.9 bn

There is a heap of HELP debt out there. According to the Department of Education and Training some 2.8m people owe $61.9bn, total loans over the scheme’s life are $80bn.

It’s enough to encourage people pleased when the government cancelled the demand driven system. But not a detail to deter supporters who expect DDS back if Labor wins the election.

For a start, if the past is a predictor people repay; in 2008-09 1m people repaid their study debt in full, rising to 1.67m by 2017-18.  Sure, debtors are taking longer, perhaps because of course costs and maybe due to the impact of the GFC on starting salaries – but the payback period has not super-stretched. In 2007-08 it took debtors 7.64 years to pay their debt off in full, increasing to 9.08 yrs in 17-’18. Yes, the Commonwealth wrote-off $100m worth of debt last year but no, the demand driven system did not lead to vast numbers of students taking on debts they could never pay. In 2010-11 $58m in debts were written off, against total incurred debt of $30bn but last year $102m was written off, against $80bn in total debt.

As for alleged DDF outrages two and three; last year there were just 20 000 people with a HELP debt of $135 000 or more. And as for all the opportunists swanning off overseas and thus being able to duck their debt there are around 10 000 – not last year, ever. And the biggest proportion owe $2000 or less.


to get daily updates on what's happening in the world of Australian Higher Education