Decade of debt to hang over students if loan scheme goes ahead

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Credit: Limerick Leader

A student loan scheme which could see students in debt for more than a decade, has been put forward as a feasible solution to the higher education funding crisis.

Last year, the Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan, charged an expert group with compiling a report to investigate third level funding options.

Peter Cassells, chair of the group has said that the report was finalised and returned to the Minister last week.  However, due to the caretaker capacity of the government, he said “it’s more likely the next minister will bring the report to the new Dail.”

Although the Cassells’ report has not been officially published, it is expected to lean in favour of a student loan scheme which would mean free third level fees at the point of entry.

Such a scheme would see students repay the cost of their education once they were employed and started earning a certain amount.

It is estimated that a €16,000 student loan with an interest rate of 2 per cent would take 15 years to repay at €100 per month.

Those in opposition of the scheme claim that it would create large levels of debt for students which would be a burden long after graduation.  They fear it would lead to an unequal system of education such as in the US.

Supporters of the scheme say it’s a fair and low-interest way to ensure higher education receives vital funds.

Aoife Geary

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