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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Students 'misunderstanding debt'
Students could be in debt for many years to come
Many students might underestimate how long it will take them to pay off their debts, a survey suggests.

A poll of 129 students from 16 universities found 51% were too optimistic about how long it would take to pay off their debts.

And 7% of respondents were miscalculating by as many as 10 years.

The survey was carried out by three recent graduates who have been shocked at how inept many students are in managing their finances.

Most students arrive at university having received little or no formal education in personal finance
Tom Weaver
Tom Weaver, Ash Kumar and Paul Hawkins have written an e-book - The Student Finance Vigilante - in an attempt to provide students with practical help in managing their money.

Personal finance education

The survey found that students expected to pay off their debts by the age of 28, yet 31 was calculated as the age by which they would be debt-free.

The poll suggested that 58% of students had received no personal finance education at school.

While some had received some instruction from their parents, 12% had received none at all.

And 63% did not keep a budget or actively manage their finances.

"The reality is that most students arrive at university having received little or no formal education in personal finance," said Tom Weaver.

"There is an immediate need to address this knowledge gap for many students as their lifestyle and spending decisions from their first day will impact their levels of debt for the next 10 years or longer."

Debt rising

The findings come as official figures show the total outstanding student debt in the UK rose 18.7% in the 2003-04 academic year to just over 14.6bn.

This figure, from the Student Loans Company, was up 12.3bn on the previous year.

Under the present government's plans, from 2006, students in England will have to pay fees of up to 3,000 a year towards the cost of their tuition.

Students will not l have to pay in advance unless they want to, and the fees will be covered by a loan, repayable by graduates once their annual income passes 15,000.

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