Students are paying down their student loans with interest rates rising for the first time in six years, as they get their first taste of the financial rewards of being an Australian.
The average monthly loan repayment has increased by almost £4,600, or almost one-third, since 2016, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
There has been a slight rise in the average annual interest payment of more than £1,000 for people earning between $150,000 and $160,000, with some borrowers paying as much as $10,000 more.
While some borrowers are still struggling to make their repayments, others are making progress, including those in their early twenties.
Rent and utility bills rose by an average of 4.1 per cent, while student loans increased by 7.3 per cent.
More than half of students have been paid off by the end of their 20s, but the rate of repayment has not kept pace with inflation.
New students are paying about 20 per cent more than their counterparts of earlier generations, according the ABS.
Student loan debt has grown at a rate of nearly 40 per cent over the last five years, compared to around 30 per cent for non-student borrowers.
Debt to income is also rising, with people earning $80,000 or more paying more than $160 a week on average, and $80 per week for those earning under $50,000.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were the fastest growing borrowers in 2016, with repayments rising by 4.5 per cent and 6.3 percent respectively.
This comes after a sharp increase in debt from 2015.
As well as the interest rates, student loan payments can include interest and fees.
Borrowers will pay a variable monthly percentage of their annual income towards the loan, based on the ABS data, but there is no fixed amount.
For example, borrowers can repay their loans at the average of 20 per year, or at a maximum of 70 per cent of their earnings.
Students with a higher annual income will pay more in interest.
In 2016, students with a full-time student job were expected to pay about one-fifth of their income towards student loans.
However, in 2016 that number was lowered to around one-quarter, with the average debt repayment rate increasing to 6.7 per cent compared to the previous year.
It means students with an hourly wage will pay just over $1,300 per year for their debt, compared with $1 and $1.30 for students with other types of employment.
‘I was going to graduate this year’ “My intention was to do this year, and I was going at full steam,” one young student said.
“But when I graduated, I couldn’t even afford to pay my rent.
We’re not able to live on our own.”
The student loan repayments are due to increase from August 2018 to the end, and the ABS says the average interest payment for borrowers is now around 12 per cent a year.
In 2016-17, students were more likely to be affected by a range of issues.
Many had trouble paying for books and fees, including a growing number who had to turn to loans to cover their bills.
And the cost of living increased, with many struggling to afford their rent and utilities.
Some students were not satisfied with their debt repayment terms, including some who had been in debt for more than 20 years.
Among those who were still paying their loans was a 19-year-old from Melbourne who had $150 a week in student loan debt.
She said she did not know what she was going for with her education and felt she was not getting any value from her degree.
Her debt was $2,000 a month, with a monthly payment of $400, but she was living with her parents.
“[I was] not paying it back at all, because I couldn´t make any of my payments,” she said.