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Labor defends and extends student assistance.



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Jenny Macklin MP Senator Jacinta Collins Deputy Leader of the Opposition Shadow Minister for Children and Youth

Shadow Minister for Employment, Education & Training

LABOR DEFENDS AND EXTENDS STUDENT ASSISTANCE

Labor will today oppose the closure of the Student Financial Supplement Scheme and propose extended forms of government assistance to ease financial pressure on university students.

The Howard Government is seeking to close down a vital option for people to manage living costs while studying full-time.

The Howard Government’s plan to close the scheme may mean that people are forced to pull out of their studies because of increased financial pressures.

The Student Financial Supplement Scheme allows students receiving income support to trade in $1 of grant for $2 of loan, thus increasing their income by up to $3,500 per year (or $135 per fortnight).

The closure of the scheme will not benefit a single student anywhere in the country, and will penalise around 40,000 students a year who rely on the money it provides to study.

The Howard Government should be increasing options for students to manage their study and living costs - not turning up financial pressure on students.

Labor opposes the Family and Community Services (Closure of Student Financial Supplement Scheme) Bill 2003 and will move important amendments to increase financial support for students.

• Providing up to $90 extra per fortnight to over 15,000 Australian students by extending rent assistance to Austudy recipients; and • Progressively lowering the age at which students become independent, and the means test on parental income for Youth Allowance therefore cuts out,

to 24 in 2005 and to 23 in 2007.

These amendments give effect to two important elements of Aim Higher - Labor’s $2.34 billion plan for universities and TAFEs.

Labor believes that students need better support if they are to get the best out of their studies and if Australia is to get the best out of them.

More info: Joanna Brent 02 6377 4045; 0408 473 289 (Macklin’s office) Lizzie Blandthorn 0407 689 244 (Senator Collins’s office)

11 September 2003

JOINT RELEASE