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Helping students deal with debt

Drowning in debt? New 'Contol Your Debt' help line offers financial advice

The feeling of being overwhelmed and restricted by their economy is an everyday problem for students. Unable to pay back debts and make bill payments forces young people to take on even more loans. The result – a nightmare economic situation.

”55000 young people are currently registered in the system RKI (registry for ‘bad payers’),” says Klaus Meier Olsen, chairman and project leader of Control Your Debt.

The project ‘Control Your Debt’ (or Styr Din Gæld, in Danish) is a new non-profit collaboration between the Danish Consumer Council, Student Union, and Economists Without Borders, that aims to rescue students from this seemingly endless cycle, offering preventative advice and guidance to suffering students.

A dangerous path

As most Danish students are entitled to SU – a useful quirk of the Danish welfare system – it is expected that they are therefore able to pay rent and everyday costs, such as food. However, the reality is quite different.

”Things get out of control,” says Klaus Meier Olsen, chairman and project leader of Control Your Debt, ”not because they buy a lot of expensive brands, like Gucci bags, but it’s the smaller every day expenses and unforeseen expenses, like going to the dentist and getting a bill for 2000 kr, that cannot be payed only by SU.”

Many students are forced to take on an additional student loan. A dangerous path to go down – but many students are already there. The project came to life because of these the loans, which causes many students to become registered as ”bad payers” in the Danish system.

Student-to-student advice

The economic advisors are young people themselves, and know the system very well. The student-to-student concept is important, as the project aims to relate to those between 18 and 30 years old, who have specific financial advising needs.

”The economic advisors are students in their last years at university, in either Law or Economics. They have to be on their last years, as they have to have the professional knowledge, helping them to give the best tools and advice for those who write in,” says Klaus.

The advice line began at the beginning of September, and will be available every Wednesday, from 14- 18, off of their website (In Danish), which also provides general personal finance information.

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