Med students calls on Govt to lift lifetime cap on student loans

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

A med student calls on the Govt to lift the lifetime cap on the student loan.

Freeman Ahou says the current student loan cap perpetuates inequities in the health workforce and disadvantages those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

"I think the biggest contributor to why I want to be a doctor is so that I can be an oncologist because I've had family members pass away from cancer and I think that really inspired me."

He says the cost is too high for people from low socio-economic backgrounds.

After doing business for two years before completing a 4 year degree in Genetics, the 2nd year med student has reached the limit for a student loan.

"Sure so I absolutely knew that there was a limit in place but I didn't want that to stop me from becoming a doctor and I didn't want to be limited by the fact only a few privileged people from higher socio-economic households can afford it," he explains.

Minister of Education, the Hon. Chris Hipkins, says Labour made lifting the cap a manifesto commitment and it will be considered for next year's budget.

So a year of medicine is between 16-20 thousand dollars. It's quite a lot it's too much for obviously affected students like myself who come from lower socio-economic households and probably doesn't have the same impact on some of the other students.

Freeman is now working full time to pay for his medical degree.

"I'd like to contribute back in cancer research predominantly because Māori are disproportionately affected by higher rates of cancer especially with breast cancer in women."

Minister Hipkins says that in the meantime, students should continue to prepare their study plans with the current rules in mind.