Students gathering to draw attention to $15 billion in loan debt

Tertiary students are joining together to count up as student loan debt hits $15 billion.

The Studylink Student Loan section of its website Source: Supplied

Students across the country will gather on campuses to mark the occasion at 12pm today.

The chosen 'count-up' date itself is largely symbolic as the student loan debt total fluctuates with new loans being taken out and existing ones paid off.

However the total was expected to hit $15b around the start of March,the New Zealand Union of Student Associations said.

At Wellington's Victoria University, Labour leader Andrew Little and education spokesman Chris Hipkins will attend, as well as New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin.

Students will be encouraged to post stories on social media about how their debt has affected their lives.

NZUSA president Linsey Higgins said $15b debt day was about acknowledging the many faces of debt and the burden it had on society.

"If we don't tackle student debt now it will cripple us for the future," she said.

"Seventy-five per cent of students think their debt will affect their retirement savings, 70 per cent don't see themselves owning a house, 66 per cent say their debt means they don't want to pursue higher study and 34 per cent say their debt will affect their decision to have children."

In January, Labour announced it would promise students three years of free tertiary education if elected.