It all started in 1999. As a mediocre student at Matamata College who excelled in the core subjects of mischief making and merriment I made the decision to take my unusual learning style to University. This decision was supported by my parents. But when it came to paying for this decision their idea of support was an introduction to reality and the world of user pays - and an appointment with our friendly Studylink Advisor. Congratulations son, you now have a student loan.
Tertiary study was an amazing experience. Planning your timetable so you didn’t have classes on a Friday. Making sure you attended just the right amount of compulsory tutorials. Scheduling these tutorials around meeting friends at the on- campus bar. You know, all the important parts of a degree.
All the while though this student loan was bubbling away in the background. Growing with each semester’s fees, increasing with every week’s rent. Ballooning when you had just spent your course-related costs on essential study items like jeans and CDs. After three years study I owed the people of New Zealand around $20,000. Quite respectable really. But unfortunately the people of New Zealand wanted their money back and I was legally obliged to repay their good faith.
My first job after completing a quality Bachelor of Arts degree, was in a petrol station in central Wellington. I studied hard for that role. And this is where I first became acquainted with my good friends Mr Tax Code MSL and Mrs Fortnightly pay deductions, who would be with me through thick and thin over the next eight years. Never giving, always taking. But no matter what was happening in my world I could always really on them to be there for me.
Around 2005 when interest came off I calculated that I would be 30 by the time I paid New Zealand back. My mother reminded me of this at my 30th birthday. She asked how things were going. My response of “they are still coming out” seemed to satisfy her.
The cool thing about the student loan repayments was that they came out of my pay before I could even get used to the money. So in my eyes it was money that never existed. I’d never earned it nor deserved it. It meant nothing, was nothing, yet somehow existed.
Today I got the shock of my life with an email from my HR team and a phone call to Inland Revenue. As of November 1 2011 my friend MSL will be replaced by his colleague, plain old M. My debt is clear! The people of New Zealand can be proud that this boy has repaid the faith shown in him by the country’s tax payers. I’m not sure how I will get on without my old friends showing up on my pay slip. I can’t say that I will miss them but I will always remember the time that we spent together.
To finish this tale I rang my mum last night to tell her the good news. She was just as shocked as I was. But she did have some handy suggestions of ways to now spend my money. So keep at it guys. Keep those payments going. One day you too will get that letter, email or phone call. It’s one hell of a feeling. I think they call it freedom.