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Life is not all trial and error – we can certainly learn from each other’s experiences, after all! When you’re thinking about borrowing to study, there are no better words of wisdom than from those who have stood in your shoes as teens and now look back on their choices.

They’ve got a lot to say, actually. The video interviews that follow are from former students reflecting on what they wish they’d known beforehand:


“The student loan system is a wonderful thing and gives people opportunities they might not otherwise have,” says the Commission for Financial Capability’s David Boyle. “But it’s easy to borrow the money without thinking about the consequences.

“It's not just the cost of the courses that people need to think about. In many cases it is the cost of living that students underestimate and how that can increase their overall loan.”

Top tips for student loans

  • Take advantage of the opportunity – borrowing interest-free to study is not available in a lot of other countries, so we’re fortunate to be able to do this. But it’s got to work for you.
  • Search out other funding options – to avoid borrowing too much, find out what other funding options there are, e.g. scholarships or working while you study.
  • Calculate your living costs – think about whether you want to stay at home or move away. If you do move away, work out exactly how much things like rent, food and travel will cost and how you will pay for it. Sorted’s budgeting tool can help.
  • Choose qualifications wisely – even before you borrow any money, aim for a qualification that will lead to the career you want. Remember, you will probably be paying it back for a long time.
  • Before going overseas – since you will have to pay interest on your student loan if you are away for more than six months, run the numbers on how much more it will cost if you do.

You can find more of what you need to know about student loans online from Inland Revenue.

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