BENDIGO students are weighing up their options in the wake of a federal government proposal to deregulate university fees and apply real interest to debts.
The proposal was revealed in the Federal Budget and would mean some courses would incur debts of more than double their current value.
Bendigo year 12 student Jess Burch said the news encouraged her to consider options other than university.
She hopes to go to Bundoora's La Trobe campus in 2016 – the year the fee changes would kick in – to study international development.
"I might be better off looking at a TAFE course or something else that might be cheaper," Miss Burch said.
"I'm going to take a gap year to save as much money as I can."
Fellow student Lachlann Tyson hopes to study psychology or health services at Bendigo's La Trobe University campus next year.
He said joining the Australian Defence Force might be a more attractive option if the fee increases eventuate.
I might be better off looking at a TAFE course or something else that might be cheaper.Jess Burch
Bendigo year 12 student Paige Gammon is determined to study outdoor recreation at university regardless of the fee changes.
"I'm still going to do it but it would be a lot more stressful for me," she said.
"It really doesn't seem fair. I’m going to be paying this off for the rest of my life."
Eaglehawk's Clare Bracey graduated from Bendigo Senior Secondary College last year and is taking a gap year to save money for her tertiary education.
She plans to move to Clayton to study a general science course at Monash University.
Miss Bracey said she had always planned to go to university and would be the first in her immediate family.
"I really enjoyed school and I wanted to continue studying and get a good job that I was interested in," she said.
"It’s pretty disappointing that the fees could be going up so much."
Analysis by the National Tertiary Education Union found that under the new interest structure, the cost of a three-year accountancy degree – currently $30,255 with no interest payments other than those needed to keep pace with inflation – would climb to about $75,000.
The total amount paid would grow to $120,000 in today's dollars, including $45,000 in interest, for graduates who take time off to have children and then work part time. The degree would take 36 years to pay off.
– with the SMH