Wednesday 19 December 2018

'Study now, pay later' loans to hit students with debts of €20,000

Expert report proposes new college fees of €5,000 per year

A 'study now, pay later' college fees scheme, leaving students with €20,000 debts to pay off, is on the table to address the college funding crisis. (Stock image)
A 'study now, pay later' college fees scheme, leaving students with €20,000 debts to pay off, is on the table to address the college funding crisis. (Stock image)

Fionnán Sheahan and Cormac McQuinn

A 'study now, pay later' college fees scheme, leaving students with €20,000 debts to pay off, is on the table to address the college funding crisis.

The report of an expert group proposes a controversial student loan scheme, where graduates would pay back the costs of their tuition.

The loans, of €4,000 to €5,000 or higher per year, depending on the level of fee set and the length of the course, would be repaid after they graduate and start earning above a certain salary.

The current college fee, known as the student contribution, is €3,000 a year, which is waived for those who qualify for grants.

The report also looks at other options, including greater State aid and increasing the amount raised from the training fund levelled on employers to bring in an extra €150m a year.

However, the report does warn that the current funding model is not sustainable and points to the requirement to create a third more places over the next 15 years to avoid a smaller percentage of Leaving Cert students going on to third-level.

The report sets out three options to increase funding:

A State-funded system with the scrapping of the €3,000 college fees;

Increased State funding with continuing €3,000 fees;

Increased State funding and a loans scheme. This would involve the scrapping of the upfront payments and introduction of loans for fees of up to €5,000 per year. These income contingent loans would be repaid by graduates when they hit a certain income level. The repayments would be deducted by the Revenue.

Irish Independent

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