The average student will be starting their working lives with a nearly $30,000 debt hanging around their necks, the New Zealand Union of Students Association (NZUSA) says.
NZUSA co-president Paul Falloon said research released today by TNS Conversa revealed average student debt had risen by 54 per cent since 2004 and was now $28,838.
The research also found students were looking beyond the student loan scheme, to bank loans, overdrafts, and credit cards to pay for essential living costs and 88 per cent of students considered student loans would impact on their ability to buy a house.
"For the majority of students, living expenses now far outweigh their income levels and they are forced to borrow to live," Mr Falloon said.
The drivers of student debt included continual increases in tuition fees and basic costs of living.
For example, average accommodation costs had increased from $116 to $142 a week in the last three years, he said.
Student debt included debt from student loans, bank overdrafts, personal bank loans, loans from parents and family, credit card and other loans such as hire purchase, but excluded mortgages.
The results of the research will be officially launched at Victoria University of Wellington tomorrow, followed by a march of student leaders to Parliament.