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Should I pay off my university HELP debt?


Matt: I’m 23-year-old engineering graduate from Hobart in my first position out of university. I earn $68,000pa plus super and have almost $10,000 in super. I have $35,000 savings and a $33,000 HECS/HELP debt.

What is your advice in regard to a young graduate’s immediate future

Do I take advantage of the government’s voluntary repayment contribution on HELP debts before the end of the year and pay it off all at once, or should I be a little more relaxed and be looking at investing? If so, where?

Paul: My view on HELP debt is that it is likely to be the cheapest loan you will ever have.

My general advice is to allow the extra tax taken out of your salary to pay that down over time and invest your money.

I believe you will earn more on your savings and investments than the benefit you get from paying off HELP debt.

Equally, money you build up in your own name is yours to use.

This may be for investment, buying a home or even starting your own business.

HELP debt is very low cost, so paying it off more quickly would not be my priority.

Written by Paul Clitheroe

Paul Clitheroe

Paul Clitheroe AM is a respected financial adviser and Money’s chairman and chief commentator. He is chair of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board, and author of several personal finance books. Ask Paul your money question.

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