Did you know the Government is attempting to pass legislation that will lower the help repayment threshold from $56,000 to $45,000 and place a cap on HELP Debts at $104,000?
They also want to make these new repayment arrangements retrospective – that is, they won’t affect just new students, but will affect everybody with an outstanding HECS debt. This is unfair because we didn’t sign up for this at the time
Your SCPA has been working closely and proactively with the Council of Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) on this issue. This week the SCPA sent a letter on behalf of SCU Postgraduate Students to 16 cross-bench senators to voice our disapproval and concerns on this issue.
You can write a letter too, feel free to use ours or write your own! https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Guidelines_for_Contacting_Senators_and_Members
Dear Senator [ ]
On behalf of the Southern Cross Postgraduate Association (SCPA), please allow me to urge your opposition to the Government’s plan to introduce a lower repayment threshold for FEE-HELP student loans. SCPA represents some 3,200 postgraduate students enroled at Southern Cross University (SCU), a small regional university based in northern NSW.
Forcing lower-earning graduates to pay 1% of their yearly income places a new hardship on our graduates, but will make little difference to the Government’s bottom line. We implore the Senate to reject this change, in order to show some compassion for those who are just starting in their careers or who find themselves facing difficult circumstances.
We believe that it is unfair to retroactively impose changes to previously agreed loan terms. Students have entered into their degrees (and FEE-HELP loans) knowing that they are committed to paying once they can afford to. However, if these new rules are introduced, those students and graduates will be burdened with an onerous contract to which they never agreed.
We are further concerned by a proposed cap on loans. A loan cap disproportionately affects postgraduate students, particularly those who do not have the advantage of a Commonwealth Supported Place, and particularly those of us in regional Australia. Students undertaking postgraduate studies in degrees such as engineering or law may find that they cannot afford to finish their degree due to a requirement to pay fees upfront.
Underpinning this proposal seems to be an assumption that university education is simply a matter of private benefit at public expense. However, we trust that, as a crossbench Senator, you will appreciate the true value of university education as a public investment in the nation’s essential human and social resources; and particularly so in regional communities such as ours. For this reason, we also believe that students and graduates should be valued by the Government, rather than seen as an easy target; and that the Government should prioritise an educated and skilled workforce for tomorrow.
Accordingly, we respectfully urge that you please vote against these measures in the Senate.