Huge HELP debts beyond saving

New official figures reveal HELP debtors across the country, including extraordinary individual borrowings under the scheme. The federal government shows a higher education loan scheme borrower in NSW has racked up a $462 000 debt, with a second loan to an ACT resident totalling $437 000. All up the top ten individual borrowers have combined study debts to the Commonwealth of just under $3m.

The total outstanding debt (in m) and number of debtors across the country as of June 30 was:

ACT 49,609 $971.5
NSW 810,347 $17,396.3
NT 16,684 $262.2
QLD 595,273 $11,879.3
SA 179,847 $3,406.6
TAS 47,701 $819.8
VIC 705,568 $14,590.0
WA 222,356 $4,084.8

Last night Education Minister Simon Birmingham suggested huge individual debts “highlight that some people have been trying to game the system racking up huge taxpayer-funded loans that they never expect to repay.” He is expected to point to the figures in negotiations with Senate cross-benchers.

“A student loan to get a qualification that improves your job prospects however graduates should expect to repay their loans and our reforms send that message while keeping the system fair,” the minister said last night.

The government’s proposed legislation expands access to student loans to sub-degree courses at universities