A $50 hand-up to reduce stress

New policy 'will make a huge difference'

New policy 'will make a huge difference'

COOL OPPORTUNITY: Gisborne students in Years 9 to 11 are invited to register for a United Nations Youth event here in two weeks. It will be a lot of fun, is great for your personal development and it is free. It will be run by United Nations Youth volunteers, including former Gisborne student Samantha Wood (pictured), who will be here to help lead the one-day event. File picture
AMBITIOUS: Gisborne woman Samantha Wood has political ambitions and would like to work in Government one day.
Samantha Wood is pleased about the new government policy.

It has it’s critics but the extra $50 a week students will receive this year from the new Government will have a huge impact on their lives.

For Gisborne woman and third-year Victoria University student, Samantha Wood, it means she can pay all of her rent, eat better and even afford heating in Wellington this winter.

From January 1, a new policy introduced by the coalition Government will increase student allowances or students loans by $50 a week per student — from around $177 to $227 a week.

There will also be no fees for the first year of study.

Ms Wood, 20, is in her third year of a law degree, and a BA in politics and international relations.

For two trimesters of study she will pay about $7500 in fees. If she goes up to three trimesters, it could top $10,000.

On top of this is $200 a week for rent in a five-bedroom flat in Thorndon, with four other students — that’s $1000 a week for the flat.

“Technically, it does not have a living room but we will make do with the top of the stairs,” she says matter-of-factly.

Then there is food, power and other expenses. Her parents’ income is over the threshold to qualify for a student allowance, which does not have to be repaid, so the increase for Ms Wood is the amount of student loan she can draw down.

“I’m under no illusion. I know I have to pay this money back but it will mean I can live a lot better and not cut into my savings.”

Ms Wood has saved since she was 14, with after-school jobs plus work over the holidays.

The reduction in financial stress will mean more of a focus on studies, she said.

It is the same for more than 130,000 students around the country.

“We will still have to work but this time for many it won’t mean literally not eating, or not having enough for rent that week if you miss work, are sick or need more time for school work.”

One of Ms Wood’s flatmates works weekends from 10pm to 5am at a bar.

Bar work is popular among students, as it is one of the easiest jobs to get, pays well and you get tips, but the hours are rough.

'We can focus more on studying'

Now with an extra $50 a week, it will mean they do not have to sacrifice their whole weekend to make ends meet, and can focus more on study.

Ms Wood said the level of stress among students was huge.

Mental illness that arose from that was also being addressed by a mental health inquiry looking at increased resources to student health.

“We’ve got a really bad mental health problem among students and youth. I know friends who are really struggling and it sucks.”

Although not everyone agrees with the changes, Ms Wood says she and her friends can tell you it will make a difference to their lives.

First-year students, in particular, will get a huge boost with the Government covering their whole year of fees.

Ms Wood has a $25,000 student loan for her first two years of study, which included tertiary fees and accommodation. Her main focus after graduation in 2020 would be to pay that back, she said.

“I want to pay off my debt. That’s my main focus, I hate debt”.

She wants to work in law after she graduates in 2020, mainly for practical reasons.

'I owe Gisborne a lot. I love this town'

She is not sure in which order, but she would love to work in Gisborne as well as at an international and national level.

“I owe Gisborne a lot. I love this town.”

Ms Wood also has political ambitions and would like to work in Government one day.

She is currently doing a project-based internship with East Coast Labour MP Kiri Allan.

It has it’s critics but the extra $50 a week students will receive this year from the new Government will have a huge impact on their lives.

For Gisborne woman and third-year Victoria University student, Samantha Wood, it means she can pay all of her rent, eat better and even afford heating in Wellington this winter.

From January 1, a new policy introduced by the coalition Government will increase student allowances or students loans by $50 a week per student — from around $177 to $227 a week.

There will also be no fees for the first year of study.

Ms Wood, 20, is in her third year of a law degree, and a BA in politics and international relations.

For two trimesters of study she will pay about $7500 in fees. If she goes up to three trimesters, it could top $10,000.

On top of this is $200 a week for rent in a five-bedroom flat in Thorndon, with four other students — that’s $1000 a week for the flat.

“Technically, it does not have a living room but we will make do with the top of the stairs,” she says matter-of-factly.

Then there is food, power and other expenses. Her parents’ income is over the threshold to qualify for a student allowance, which does not have to be repaid, so the increase for Ms Wood is the amount of student loan she can draw down.

“I’m under no illusion. I know I have to pay this money back but it will mean I can live a lot better and not cut into my savings.”

Ms Wood has saved since she was 14, with after-school jobs plus work over the holidays.

The reduction in financial stress will mean more of a focus on studies, she said.

It is the same for more than 130,000 students around the country.

“We will still have to work but this time for many it won’t mean literally not eating, or not having enough for rent that week if you miss work, are sick or need more time for school work.”

One of Ms Wood’s flatmates works weekends from 10pm to 5am at a bar.

Bar work is popular among students, as it is one of the easiest jobs to get, pays well and you get tips, but the hours are rough.

'We can focus more on studying'

Now with an extra $50 a week, it will mean they do not have to sacrifice their whole weekend to make ends meet, and can focus more on study.

Ms Wood said the level of stress among students was huge.

Mental illness that arose from that was also being addressed by a mental health inquiry looking at increased resources to student health.

“We’ve got a really bad mental health problem among students and youth. I know friends who are really struggling and it sucks.”

Although not everyone agrees with the changes, Ms Wood says she and her friends can tell you it will make a difference to their lives.

First-year students, in particular, will get a huge boost with the Government covering their whole year of fees.

Ms Wood has a $25,000 student loan for her first two years of study, which included tertiary fees and accommodation. Her main focus after graduation in 2020 would be to pay that back, she said.

“I want to pay off my debt. That’s my main focus, I hate debt”.

She wants to work in law after she graduates in 2020, mainly for practical reasons.

'I owe Gisborne a lot. I love this town'

She is not sure in which order, but she would love to work in Gisborne as well as at an international and national level.

“I owe Gisborne a lot. I love this town.”

Ms Wood also has political ambitions and would like to work in Government one day.

She is currently doing a project-based internship with East Coast Labour MP Kiri Allan.

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