Recent grads hammered by HECS

Women who are registered nurses and primary school teachers pay the largest totals of HECs debt to government

The findings are in a new analysis of the Higher Education Loan Programme, still colloquially called HECS, by Mark Warburton, (Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education).

Mr Warburton reports that a lower repayment threshold from 2019 led to women paying two-thirds of the total additional return to the government

Plus debts for young people are way higher than the $25 000 system-total average. For current completers it is more like $60 000.

This means recent graduates “are spending a significant part of their working lives repaying these debts, a situation that was not the case when HECS was introduced in 1989,”

Which is bad for life-choices, “they continue to pay the higher effective rates of tax associated with repaying debts well into their 30s. By this time, they are forming families and having children in much greater numbers than when debts were small and repayment times short.

“Many desire to purchase a house. Their ability to obtain a loan depends on their disposable income which is reduced by their student debt repayment obligations.”

Mr Warburton warns, the vast expansion of student loan schemes, since HECS was introduced for a much smaller cohort of undergraduates 30 years ago, has created a situation where they “now contribute to structural inequities in Australia’s taxation system, its intergenerational unfairness and women’s economic disadvantage.”

He adds that data on debt is inadequate to the extent that those currently being incurred by particular qualifications can’t be determined and “there is little available data on how debts are distributed based on the characteristics of completing students or how factors, such as family formation, may affect their ability to make repayments.”