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Labor reaps dividends from the misery of escalating student debt

Shadow Minister for Education, Sarah Henderson, says the Albanese Government is reaping dividends from the misery of escalating student debt, with ATO data revealing Australians paid a record $2.9 billion in voluntary HELP debt repayments in 2022-23, up from $780 million in the previous year.

As a result of Labor’s sky high inflation, the 2022-23 HELP indexation rate was 7.1 per cent, triggering a 272 per cent increase in voluntary repayments.

“Hit by a crippling 7.1 per cent increase in their student debts, 164,000 Australians made voluntary repayments averaging $17,636 in an attempt to pay down or pay off their debt,” Senator Henderson said.

“Despite this surge in repayments to the Commonwealth, Education Minister Jason Clare has sat on his hands taking no action on crippling increases in student debt caused by Labor’s economic mismanagement.

“After an indexation rise of 3.9 per cent in June 2022 and 7.1 per cent in June 2023, HELP loans are forecast to rise by at least 4 per cent this June. This is in stark contrast to annual indexation under the former Coalition government which averaged just 1.7 per cent.

“Since Labor was elected, 3 million Australians with an average HELP liability of $26,494 are facing a total increase in their student debt of at least 15 per cent – an increase of around $4,000,” Senator Henderson said.

There are also growing numbers of very high student loans with the latest data showing 335,293 Australians owe more than $50,000 and 47,847 Australians owe more than $100,000.

“Minister Clare’s lack of action on student debt is abysmal.  He has even failed to fix the inequitable ATO HELP payments system which doesn’t account for debt repayments in real time. This is so inequitable that Australians are being indexed on debts they have already repaid.

“While more and more Australians are caught in a student debt trap, Labor has been tone deaf to the cost of living crisis so many young people are facing. It is no wonder domestic university enrolments have fallen by five per cent, compounded by the housing crisis which is putting tertiary study out of reach for so many young Australians,” Senator Henderson said.

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