Fine Gael TD for Carlow/Kilkenny, Pat Deering, has written to the Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, to investigate the possibility of introducing a student loan system similar to that in the UK.
“There is a large number of families whose household income is above the third level grant threshold but who are struggling to meet the substantial costs involve in having one or more children in college. I firmly believe that a sustainable, State funded student loan system is the best solution to easing the financial burden on families. I have asked Minister Quinn to consider this possibility and look forward to hearing back from him.
“We currently have a three tier system here when it comes to third level costs. There are those families who can comfortably afford it, those who are grant aided and the large section in the middle who are struggling to put their children through college.
“I am concerned that the cost of going to college will deter young people and their parents from making the commitment to pursue a third level education. Many people are extremely hard pressed and the increasing cost of going to college has become a real financial burden on families.
“The student loan system in the UK involves the student paying back nine per cent of their income on monies earned over £21,000 when they find employment upon leaving college. If their employment stops, so do the repayments. Interest rates are minimal and sustainable.
“The introduction of this form of sustainable, state funded student loan scheme is a progressive measure which would, I believe, make the payment of college fees far more manageable for many families. Students and parents are already borrowing from profit making financial institutions in order to pay for college and its related costs. I would much rather see these people availing of a longer term, more sustainable arrangement with the State where there is no profit incentive and participants are not at the mercy of the banks.”