Why Do Australians Feel Stuck With HECS Debt?

Independent MP Dr Monique Ryan has launched a petition amid mounting concerns over Australia’s Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) debt system.

The move follows revelations that over half a million Australians witnessed their HECS debts balloon faster than they could repay them last year, with the government accruing more revenue from HECS debts than from its main fossil fuel tax.

The 7.1% indexation hike in 2023 raised eyebrows, prompting scrutiny into how these figures are calculated and their impact on individuals. 

On today’s The Briefing episode, we hear from Dr Ryan as we investigate why it feels like you will never pay off your HECS debt. 

In Australia, about 2.9 million people have a HECS debt, with some carrying those debts well into their 30s and 40s, even beyond.

Dr Ryan said the petition for a change in indexation rules had already hit 114 signatures.

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She has urged the Education Minister Jason Clare to alter how HECS debts are indexed.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable that people should contribute to the cost of an education, which will significantly increase their earning capacity in their own lifetime,” Dr Ryan said.

“But I do think that it needs to be fair, and I think that the HECS debts have got out of control,” she added.

Dr Ryan stresses the importance of making higher education accessible without burdening students with lifelong debt.

“I don’t think the government should be making a profit by charging an interest rate which is excessive, essentially what happened with this interest with the CPI last year.”

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