In 2022 we conducted research with over 1,000 young Australians aged 12 to 25, which found that for University and TAFE students, not having enough money was their second highest life stressor. For those not studying, this financial pressure was their number one life stressor overall.
This week, the ABC reported that some young people have been forced to make a choice between work or tertiary study due to the inadequate rate of Youth Allowance. Without an increase to Youth Allowance payments, continued education is becoming an option reserved for the privileged few.
In April, a bill to pause HECS-HELP debt indexation and to raise the minimum repayment income was rejected. As a result, Australian students and graduates are set to see a 7 per cent increase to their student loans on June 1, adding further pressure in an already untenable financial environment.
What are young people saying?
Our research shows that Gen Zs are money conscious, with 90 per cent always looking for ways to save money, and 72 per cent reporting that they use a budget and are careful with their spending. New research from the US reports that though financial literacy is low across generations, this is more pronounced among Gen Z and even lower for Millennials.
As 70 per cent of Gen Zs experienced financial stress over the past year, one Student Edge member says that many young people “feel the need to give up their social life in order to save [for] housing, retirement, general living expenses. Going out seems like a privilege only afforded to some people.”
In our 2022 Student Edge Members Research, young people reported that economic failings, out-of-reach housing, saving money, and the cost-of-living pressure were some of the hardest things about being a young person today. These difficulties were reported alongside mental health, overall uncertainty about the future, and a worsening climate as issues of most concern.
Our research with R U OK? found similar outcomes, as young people reported feeling misunderstood by older generations in relation to mental health issues (32%), money and cost of living (14%), and climate change and sustainability (5%).