Persistent non-repayers: The characteristics of student loan borrowers in New Zealand who made no repayments for long periods after study

Publication Details

This report analyses the characteristics of student loan persistent non-repayers. They are student loan borrowers who left study in 2006 with a leaving debt of at least $20 and who, as New Zealand-based borrowers, made no repayments in three or more consecutive years during the 10 tax years 2007/08–2016/17.

Author(s): Loan Pham, Tertiary Sector Performance Analysis, Ministry of Education

Date Published: April 2019


This report analyses the following characteristics of student loan persistent non-repayers in New Zealand: demographic, main activity prior to study, last year of study, post-study activity, student loan profile, and student loan profile by overseas status.

Our analysis finds that persistent non-repayers in New Zealand make up 25% (8,280 people) of all leavers who left study in 2006 with a leaving debt. They are more likely to:

  • study qualifications at below degree level
  • have not completed the last studied qualification
  • have their main activity prior to study as ‘on a benefit’
  • have post-study activity as ‘never employed’ or as ‘always on a benefit’.

While most persistent non-repayers made some repayments during the 10 years considered, 29% (2,439 people) made no repayments at all. They account for 7.3% of all leavers with a leaving debt.

The bulk of this analysis spanned the 10 tax years 2007/08–2016/17. However, a check of the repayment status for the 8,280 persistent non-repayers at the end of the 2017/18 tax years shows that 17% had fully repaid their loan, 4.1% had their loan written off due to bankruptcy or death and 22% were repaying.

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