Milan Caird: “Money makes the world go round” – A student perspective

Yes, we have all heard this saying at some stage in our lives. And it is indeed very true that students are paying for their respective degree these days.

I should know, I’m sorting out my finances for studies commencing in 2018.

There has been much made of recent debates surrounding new Labour policies regarding university, tertiary study and shadowing student loans. These include a free year of education as well as an extra $50 in the pockets of every student, either through increased loan or allowances.

And before you ask: yes, there is a difference – a very big one.

A loan is when you take money from the Government through Studylink and have to repay it back, while an allowance is money the Government grants you with no repayment expectations.

Many have taken to their keyboards in response to the proposed Labour roll-out, ironic really, especially when they don’t understand how much it costs to live as a student, and how much support a loan actually provides.

So here I am: the everyday student with an everyday dream.

It has always been the timeline I hoped for – move from Auckland, where I’ve always lived, to Wellington, and study at Victoria University. I know they have the best Law school for me, and how can I go wrong? Studying Politics in the heart of New Zealand’s political system must be a positive catch.

Some might say ‘You live in Auckland, why not study there and stay at home.” Only one small issue with that: I don’t want to study in Auckland and, while loving my parents very much (especially Mum’s delicious dinners), I don’t want to be at home, or even close to it for the University experience.

“Ok then, apply for a scholarship – that’ll help” they say. I did that, I didn’t get any.

Is this the part where I’m supposed to give up?

Fortunately for me, I have parents who are willing to go out of their way to make sure my dreams come true, which also means supplementing the cost of my residence next year after the $180 per week I was meant to receive before Labour’s policy was introduced.

My residence costs $385 a week to live in. Simple maths tells you that I have to ask my parents for $205 every week, just so I can have a bed and food. That is quite the tidy sum for a family of three kids, who are on mortgages, have chosen to put us through Catholic education, let us follow expensive hobbies, and always financially supported us in everything we wanted to do.

So the extra $50 isn’t for me, because I’ll going to have to pay that back myself. Rather, it is for my parents, who are going to save almost $2000 on my accomodation fees next year.

Alright then, fine.. I admit – it is also for me. I would not expect my parents to pay that much without me contributing anything.

I’m sure there are those people who will tell me to get a job, the workforce needs you! And you need the workforce income.

Thing is, studying full time takes up much of your time. Many students will discover that there is not enough time in the day to study and work, especially when they are trying to find rhythm in a new living situation.

Responding to those naysayers then, I am going to get a job, just so that I don’t have to ask my parents for more money as well as have the capacity to pay for my own living too.

Right now, I make $16 an hour, and generally work about 16 hours a week, amounting to 4 shifts of 4 hours. That is around $200 a week.

If I made that same amount next year?

Boom! I have my accomodation paid for, SWEET.

But it leaves a big fat zero for transport, clothes, shampoo, or for that matter – anything else! And I can’t save for my future either.

To be honest, who knows what sort of hours I will be able to work next year while studying? I have saved money for 2018, but no where near enough to support me for an entire 365 days, meaning that extra $50 would allow for those “me things.” A drink out with mates, new set of strings for my guitar, or even an extra blanket for those cold Wellington nights… don’t I deserve that?

Now, this next bit might make a few people a bit angry, but it needs to be said.

Ask any student who is living paycheque and loan, to paycheque and loan. They will tell you that this $50 loans raise is the best thing to happen right now for students, because it relieves pressure, letting students worry about what is important: their education. Some might go spend that on alcohol, but for those who are desperate… it is a Godsend.

Students will also tell you that it is still far from ideal. You can scoff at this and think about what bigoted little pricks they are, but you know yourself that living is expensive, even with a full time job in many cases, so think about how hard it would be with only a supplement of $220 plus whatever you can muster up on top of full time study.

What many students are calling for is a universal student allowance, where the loan amount is changed into an allowance and there is still money available to be loaned out for those who need it.

Because they do need it.

You can also think of it as your taxpayer money going into the students pockets, but then again, it was your parents taxes going into free/cheap tertiary education that allowed many adults in New Zealand to study in the first place. For the students, their taxes will go into the next generation.

It is a Chinese Whispers situation, where we all support each other to reach an end goal.

And for those who say that students never pay back loans – they do, there is just a select few cases which get broadcast about students returning from overseas with huge loans outstanding due to interest. Turns out, if everyone plays by the rules, they aren’t that hard to get rid of.

Simply put, we as a nation need to think before we write. The benefits of an increase in student loans is endless. It takes pressure off so many people involved around the student’s financial life. Without it, people might never be able to achieve their dreams, those crucial things they have worked much of their teenage years for.

Money does make the world go round.

Let’s make it go round for us all, no matter who we are or where we come from.