The number of university former students – graduates and university dropouts – who cannot pay back their student loans has topped the five-million mark in Turkey, the Deutsche Welle (DW) Turkish service reported on Sunday.
This is because graduates are jobless or poorly paid, according to DW which cited the results of a parliamentary inquiry lodged by Levent Gok, a lawmaker from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
The DW report also revealed that legal actions, attachment proceedings, had been initiated for 280,000 graduates who are struggling to pay the credit back.
In Turkey, higher education students, including undergraduate, masters and doctoral students, are given student loans by the Higher Education Credit and Hostels Institution (KYK) over the course of their educational program in order to support their living expenses.
Following the completion of the education, the students are obliged to pay their loans back to the Turkish state by the first month of the second year.
Non-performing loans result in late fee charges which are applied by the Turkish government at the monthly rate of 1.40 percent, with the arrears doubling or tripling in some cases, the report says. In the end, the process ends up with execution orders by the tax authorities.
There are reportedly many cases in which low-paid wages are even confiscated by the authorities.
“Not everybody has wealthy parents. I could not reimburse the KYK credit. Due to my credit debt, I cannot feel that I have begun working,” said Ilkay Ates, who dropped out in his second year of university education.
Ates was expected to pay the loan back in 12 installments but could not do since he has been working in a poor paying job.
“I have a job now. However, I cannot make enough money to reimburse my credit loan. Because of the debt, I have to live with that debt burden,” said the youngster.
Sahin Aybey, the education editor at daily Cumhuriyet, told DW that the graduates’ debts must be waived in order to make them free individuals.
“The country’s future is dependent on the education of the youth. [Therefore,] I want the debts to be written off,” the editor said.