University students
University students Brett Wortman

Students ‘should repay debt earlier'

STUDENTS with university debts should be forced to start repaying earlier to save the federal government up to $500 million a year, according to a research paper.

The proposal, in a Grattan Institute research paper, argues the government should reduce the Higher Education Loan Program repayment threshold from $54,126 to $42,000 from next year.

The paper found up to $1.6 billion lent to students in 2014-15 may never be repaid, in part because of past students taking part-time jobs rather than full-time work that may cross the repayment threshold.

Institute higher education program director Andrew Norton said while the HELP debt program was 'vital', too many borrowers were not repaying the debt, or taking too long to do so.

The proposal would affect more women than men because more women work part-time; particularly those doing so while their partners worked full-time.

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