'Bad' student loans hit $6 billion
AsiaOne -- Mar 19
With an increasing number of students taking out public loans to finance their university education in the past decade, the total amount of debt in arrears last fiscal year has tripled over the same period to about 470 billion yen(S$6 billion).
This situation has arisen mainly because an increasing number of borrowers are unable to repay their debts due to a drop in incomes amid the nation's extended economic slump.
With one-third of current university students depending on public loans to finance their studies, education experts have called for reducing repayment amounts to ease their financial burden.
According to JASSO, there were about 6.9 million high school, university and graduate school students in fiscal 2011. Although this figure is down 10 per cent from a decade ago due to the chronically low birthrate, the number of student-loan borrowers jumped 1.7-fold to about 1.29 million.
More than 330,000 students failed to repay their student loans in fiscal 2011, with the total amount in arrears at 475.5 billion yen, increasing mainly because of lower incomes amid the protracted economic slump.
In February, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations surveyed people with outstanding student loans. Among 332 cases, about half said they could not repay their debts because they had lost their jobs or were earning less.
A surge in university tuition costs has exacerbated the situation.
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