Opinion: Students struggle with living costs

New Zealand students struggle to make ends meet. Photo: Supplied
New Zealand students struggle to make ends meet. Photo: Supplied

With the cost of living on the rise in New Zealand – especially in Auckland – how are students surviving?

If you’re lucky enough that you still live with your parents, then the struggles won’t be so bad, as they may be helping you financially  – but that’s not the case for many.

My focus is on students living away from parents or families, who receive no support apart from Government allowances and work if they obtain some.

Let’s look at the numbers.

University-of-Auckland-School-of-Environment_organisation_logoAccording to The University of Auckland, the average rent for a student in Auckland ranges from $200 to $350.

Studylink indicates the total allowance for students living away from parents is:

downloadUnder 23-year-olds get: $175.10

Twenty-four and over get: $210.13

(Some allowances differ depending on students situation)

If this is a student’s only source of income, then things are going to be tough considering the average rent rates that don’t include bare essentials.

There has been an increase in student accommodation supplements that were introduced in April. The amount went from $174.20 to $175.10, but that still doesn’t match the increased living costs for students.

NZ Student’s Association president Rory McCourt says, “the 90c increase was piddly and completely out of whack with changes to the cost of living.

“Students have always been poor. The difference now is that students can’t borrow enough to live, and housing costs are swallowing up an increasing amount of a student’s income.”

We all know the saying, “get a job then!”. But what if getting a job had to be limited to a certain amount of hours because of Government restrictions.

According to Studylink: “You can earn up to $211.96 a week before tax without it affecting your student allowance. For every cent you earn over this, your student allowance is reduced by the same amount.”

I don’t see this as helping students financially, considering many don’t get jobs and the ones that do get penalised.

It’s just becoming harder and more difficult for students to save and pay off debt while receiving a limited amount of income, which is usually spent purely on the essentials to survive.

Well, that’s my perspective. What’s yours?

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