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A generation in debt: Millennials might still be paying off student debt at 50, according to recent findings

BySi Miao Li

Oct 15, 2017

In today’s day and age, it appears that a degree from higher education establishments is more coveted than ever, be it for academic pursuit or practicality.

Data released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) on 21 August 2017 revealed that a total of 461,860 people have been placed in full-time UK higher education establishments.

This was accompanied by an increase in tuition fees, rising from a maximum of £3,375 to £9,000 a year in 2012 and from £9,000 to £9,250 in 2017.

Back in March, The Independent had previously reported that, according to the Student Loan Calculator website, university tuition fees in England are the highest in the world.

In addition, maintenance grants have been scrapped, meaning that students now require a higher maintenance loan to cover living costs and thus find themselves in more debt than ever before.

A recent study by a discount offers website, My Discount Vouchers, led to astonishing findings on the amounts and repayments of student debts.

Its data was based on the average starting salaries and the current pay rise rates.

For instance, it would take those entering a career in mechanical engineering 29 years and four months to pay off their student debt totalling £72,960, of which interest makes up to £27,930.

Investment bankers and financial managers would have paid their full loan off in 14 years, 5 months, and 13 years, 9 months respectively.

Students pursuing a career in veterinary, on the other hand, would graduate with £82,326 of debt but may only pay 53% back before it is wiped off after a 30-year repayment term.

Unfortunately, repaying student debts at 50 years of age appears to be an increasingly common phenomenon among the millennials.

The exorbitant costs of higher education have raised concerns over its affordability and accessibility, especially to students of lower-income households. This has culminated into several major student protests in recent years, reflecting student dissatisfaction.

Sandi, a law student at University College London, who is currently taking on a student loan to finance her studies, spoke to The Student: “The loan is only enough to cover tuition expenses in the first year, so for the second and third years, my situation is still not too clear.

“Hopefully I can get a scholarship, but if not, I will have to squeeze the money out from somewhere. I do intend to find a part time job perhaps in the second semester.”

For students from Scotland and the European Union, the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) pays for full tuition fees. This has helped to alleviate students’ concerns on financing their higher education.

Ellen, who studies bio-chemistry, said that the financial supported through the SAAS made her attendance at university feel more accessible for her.

“From a young age, I knew I was working towards going to university despite my parents’ financial situations at the time,” Ellen said.

The scheme was also a major pull factor for many EU students. Adam, who is from Sweden and studies international relations, said that tuition fees were a major contributing factor to his decision to study at Edinburgh instead of English universities.

“England is just too expensive, especially London,” Adam stated.


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