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Looks like most of you will have to pay your HECS back from Sunday

Words by Nicole La Ruffa

Time to sacrifice that weekly avo on toast.

Great news for uni students who aren’t already struggling enough. The government has received the support it needed to lower the HECS repayment threshold, so be prepared to hand over your money sooner than you anticipated.

Currently, the repayment amount stands at about $56,000, so you wouldn’t have to worry about your (probably) crippling uni debt until you had a semi-decent full-time job. However, after yesterday’s debate, changes are expected to pass in the Senate which will drop that threshold to $45,000.

If everything goes to plan, come this Sunday, those earning at least $45,000 will have to repay one per cent of their loan annually. For those earning $132,000 a year, that amount will rise to 10 per cent.

Breaking that down weekly, these changes will affect students raking in just $730 per week.

As well, the government has announced a ‘lifetime cap’ on how much you can loan. If your uni bill exceeds $104,440 – or $150,000 for medical and veterinary students – over your life, you’ll be cut off. Once you start paying the debt back, further loans can then be accessed.

Speaking against the bill was Greens Leader Richard Di Natale: “If you’re a young person and you’re taking home 700 bucks a week, let’s face it, it’s not a goldmine,” he said. “Once you’ve ended up paying for your rent, your energy bills, your grocery, your shopping needs, your transport needs, there’s very little left to spend on anything else.”

In support of these changes, independent senator Tim Storer said it was necessary to “rein in the rising cost of HELP loans” and was “preferable to other higher education cuts”.

The decision will be made by the Senate this week. If passed, these changes will be implemented as of this Sunday.

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