Unable to return to NZ due to COVID-19 & have a student loan?

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant delays and restrictions in international travel. As a result, many New Zealanders are still stranded overseas. There are several options available to manage your student loan if you are in this situation.

You may be able to apply for your student loan to be interest-free if:

  • You were intending to travel back to New Zealand, but are now unable to
  • You have been a New Zealand tax resident while you were overseas
  • You can show that you were intending to stay overseas less than 183 days

If you are struggling to make your student loan repayments, you can contact Inland Revenue to either reduce your payment obligations or you can propose an instalment arrangement.

Here is an example from Inland Revenue’s website:

NZ-based student loan borrower outside of NZ for more than 184 days

Jill has a student loan but she has been on an OE. She is stranded and she will be out of New Zealand for over 184 days when she is finally able to return to New Zealand. So long as Jill returns to New Zealand within a reasonable time from when she is no longer practically restricted in travelling, she will not be viewed as an overseas based borrower. Therefore, she will not be charged interest as she would be if she was an overseas based borrower. Jill plans to return to New Zealand as soon as she is able.

Further options to manage student loan payments – whether based in New Zealand or overseas based, can be found here.

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