Drastic Plastic

Students swipe credit cards, use loan sharks to survive


Student Kelly CoppinThere’s been a 56% rise in the number of students with credit card debt, the latest Tertiary Student Income and Expenditure Survey released today reveals.

28% of the 5,000 students from across New Zealand who completed the survey admit they have credit card debt, up from just 18 per cent in 2010.

The amount of credit card debt is also on the rise; jumping from $500 in 2010 to $1,771 in 2014 – the highest it has ever been in the 30-year long survey.

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Association president Rory McCourt says students are turning to credit cards, often with punishing interest rates, just to pay the bills.

Kelly Coppin, 22, is a finance student attending Massey University extramurally. She says her $800 credit card debt is just part and parcel of being a student in 2015.

“I have $2000 in overdraft debt, and another $800 in credit card debt. I decided to study after 5 years as a full time worker. I've gone from earning $450 a week, to being only able to borrow $170 a week from my living costs. I have $50 a week for food and bills. Being a student in this country is a lovely idea, but a very poor reality.”

The Survey Report also reveals that “Student financial advisers are increasingly reporting that students are getting into difficulty with loan sharks as they grapple with immediate and unaffordable expenses.”

58.5% of survey respondents had two or more forms of debt – including to the Government.

The spike in credit card debt will be a concern for many debt-wary New Zealanders, says Rory McCourt, who are beginning to wonder whether the Government is on top of student debt, or if students should receive a guaranteed income in an effort to curb the ballooning public and private debt.


About the Research:

The NZUSA Tertiary Student Income and Expenditure Survey has been running for 30 years and has a solid reputation. For the latest report 5,000 students were surveyed across the country with a representative sample of universities, polytechnics, internal, distance and age-varied students. The margin of error at the standard 95% confidence level is between 1.36% and 1.94%, depending on the particular question (not all questions were relevant to all participants and therefore the sample size varies across the study).

The voice of New Zealand's 400,000 students.

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations exists to advance the political, social and economic interests of tertiary students whatever they study and wherever they live. NZUSA is a membership body of local students' associatons. We believe in opportunity for all.

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