Yes, I am "going back to school." I keep calling this my Mid-life Crisis, which is kind of a joke because it doesn't feel like a crisis, but also kind of fitting because I've had a real shift in my goals and perspective and it's starting to show. In the past month or two I've quit my job, got a tattoo, and enrolled in a Massage Certificate programme - a complete shift of focus for me.
Which brings us to today's topic.
This being my first venture in tertiary education here in my adoptive country, I have learned a little bit about how these things work in New Zealand.
I admit I still don't understand the complex testing system which high school students take and which somehow has specific consequences for what types of university programmes they can get into. But I can now tell you something about finances.
First, there's student loans. I applied for one last week. Just about anyone can get one, and here is how it works: You take out the loan, the special government agency that handles such things then pays your enrolment fees and can also pay you for course-related costs (in my case, that's mainly a massage table). Once you graduate, your loan account gets handed over to the IRD (it's like the IRS). This loan is completely interest free. And you don't have to pay it back 'til you start making over a certain amount of money (about $18,000 a year). THEN you just have to repay 10% of your current income until it's paid off. It doesn't matter how long it takes. Just 10% of your earnings taken right out of your pay check by the IRD. It's that easy.
Oh, but it does not, in fact, end there. Here's a brand new term: Student Allowances. How these work is a little simpler: the government gives you money. And you don't owe them anything ever. Yes, my friends, the government will actually PAY you to go to university! Now, how much you get depends on your income as well as your partner's. I my case I don't qualify for any because of Loren's income, and because of my age (partner's income doesn't count if you're under 23). But the average student just out of high school will get somewhere between $50 and $150 per week, depending on their parent's circumstances. Now that is pretty great.
For an adult student, the whole system is still pretty neat. But for a parent trying to send their kid to university, well, it's pretty damn amazing.
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