Thursday, 30 Nov 2023

We got educated and exploited: Nadia Sheriffs $35,000 loan has only reduced to $32,800 after 20 years

We got educated and exploited: Nadia Sheriffs $35,000 loan has only reduced to $32,800 after 20 years


We got educated and exploited: Nadia Sheriffs $35,000 loan has only reduced to $32,800 after 20 years

As a teenager in the 1990s, Nadia Sheriff remembers seeing posters plastered around her university campus.

"Don't have enough food to eat?" they blared. "Can't cover the basics?"

The posters offered an enticing solution - a quick loan to fund student expenses while she was studying that could be paid back when she was working full-time.

But after almost 20 years of repaying her debt, Sheriff's $35,000 loan has only been reduced to $32,800.

Although the student financial supplement scheme (SFSS), introduced by Labor, was dumped 20 years ago, recipients - many of them now in their 40s and 50s - are still struggling to pay off the debts they racked up. Last week Guardian Australia revealed the federal government was still chasing $2bn of debt from more than 140,000 former low-income students like Sheriff who borrowed under the scheme.

And the problem is set to get worse, with quarterly consumer price index figures released last week showing Australians with student debt are facing the highest increase in decades when indexation is added on 1 June.

MPs and advocates have urged the government to reform the repayment system. Meanwhile, students including Sheriff are calling on the federal government to ease the growing pressure on them, decades after they took a loan that was meant to help.

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