Norwegian students worry little about debt

October 29, 2004

A survey of Norwegian student finances has revealed that 40 per cent "rarely or never" think about how much they owe.

Interviews with students at Oslo and Tromso universities, Stavanger University College and the Norwegian School of Management produced a surprising outcome for the Norwegian bank Postbanken survey.

The average student owes 171,500 krone (£15,000), according to Lanekassen, the Norwegian state educational loan fund.

Benedikte Johannessen, 23, an economics and business studies student at Stavanger, told the survey: "I don't worry too much about my student loan.

I don't even know how much I actually owe."

But reality bites for students sooner rather than later. The first quarterly loan repayment comes seven months after studies are completed.

Although unemployment is low, many graduates struggle to meet their first repayments. Last year, 10,341 recent graduates (36 per cent) applied to have their payments deferred, while 3,678 were prosecuted for defaulting on their loan.

One way to reduce the debt is to move to northern Norway - the Government encourages graduates to migrate north by reducing their student loan.

Graduates can apply to defer repayment for up to three years under certain circumstances such as illness or unemployment. The loan, plus interest, must, however, be paid back within 20 years.

The survey reveals differing attitudes to student loans among male and female students: 52 per cent of men admitted to not thinking about their loan compared with 33 per cent of women.

Lanekassen confirmed these figures were reflected in the sums being loaned to students. Last year, female students borrowed on average 51,447 krone.

Men borrowed 55,824 krone on average.

The same tendency is to be seen among last year's graduates, with women owing 131,030 krone compared with 139,893 krone owed by men.

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