NICK Pedley is like the majority of students studying at an Australian university in 2013 - he's optimistic about finding a job but he will finish his degree with a sizeable debt.
The University of Tasmania arts and business student is going into his sixth and final year and has accumulated a Higher Education Loan Program debt of about $22,000.
The Newstead resident has been studying a year longer than normal because he took on the double degree and he also works part-time.
According to the Grattan Institute's report Mapping Australian Higher Education 2013, released yesterday, unpaid university student debt is expected to hit $6.2 billion. Nationally, HELP debt totals $26.3 billion.
The Grattan report put the rapidly growing debt down to the growing higher education sector following the relaxation of enrolments last year and the increase in undergraduates.
Mr Pedley said he intended to start paying his debt when he found a job and met the repayment threshold of $49,095.
"In Tassie that's obviously a little bit harder than mainland Australia, so you've got a lot of UTAS students who may not be able to pay it back because they want to stay locally but can't find high-paying jobs," he said.
He took on the double degree to boost his chances of a job in the public sector, preferably in policymaking, but he understands that it is going to be tough as jobs continue to be cut.
He was concerned that the $6.2 billion was likely never to be repaid, as it would help to alleviate the health crisis and implement education reforms.