Jack Tame is a television and radio journalist and presenter.

Jack Tame: Paying back student loan a hard road

I was one of the lucky ones and I still owed 30 grand.

Sure, I'll concede some of my student loan could be blamed on my average discipline. I probably didn't need so many scone-and-coffees or nights out. But though I worked part time while studying at university, at $8000 a year for tuition, it took me years to pay off my debt.

Still, I had it easy compared to my siblings. My three brothers and sisters all studied at university away from home, and to whatever their undergraduate degrees cost was added the expense of dorm halls and flats.

Mum and Dad were incredibly generous, but the total expense for the four Tame children to live and study at university would border on $250,000. Some of my friends have individually racked up six-figure student loans.

It used to be you went to university if you had the marks and smarts.

Neither of my parents paid for university tuition, and my mum received a stipend to study teaching in the early 1980s.

Now, even if you excel in high school, university students and their families face potential decades of debt.

I'm 30, and between tuition and property prices, it's easy to resent the ease with which baby boomers cruised by the financial impasses of my generation.

That is, of course, unless Mum and Dad are able to come to the rescue.

But what percentage of Kiwi families can comfortably afford to shell out $30,000 for their child's undergraduate degree?

What percentage can afford to fund multiple children through university?

Baby boomers might have bought cheap houses and attended uni for free, but I'd argue most of them couldn't comfortably afford to help their children do the same thing. Successful, educated, debt-free kids are status symbols in our unequal society.

I cleared my student loan. I don't resent having to pay for university. But then I was one of lucky ones.

An awful lot of Kiwis have to get a long way behind for the chance to get ahead.

Jack Tame is on NewstalkZB Saturday 9am-noon.

- NZ Herald

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Jack Tame is a television and radio journalist and presenter.

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