Israelis graduate with huge financial debt, survey shows

National Union of Israeli Students: Students in 2013, spend NIS 1,165 more than they earn each month.

Student with laptop at Bezalel library 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Student with laptop at Bezalel library 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Israeli students finish their undergraduate studies with financial debts of thousands of shekels, according to a survey conducted by the National Union of Israeli Students.
It was presented at a session on the opening of the academic year held by the Knesset Education Committee on Monday.
According to the survey, which was conducted among 9,000 respondents and is part of NUIS’ 2013 Student Survey, students in Israel in 2013, spend NIS 1,165 more than they earn each month. Back in 2009, the gap was of only NIS 675 a month.
The report, showed that students experience a yearly overdraft of about NIS 13,980, which comes up to NIS 41,940 across the three years of undergraduate studies.
When it comes to medical or engineering students, NUIS chairman Ori Reshtick explained, the gaps are even greater.
The NUIS figures indicated that the monthly expenditures consist of three main areas: livelihood, housing and studies.
Israeli students spend an average of NIS 1,872 a month for living expenses, which include food, transportation, health, communications, Internet access and entertainment.
The housing expenses of students have gone up since last year to an additional NIS 1,430, including rent, gas, electricity and municipal tax.
Students’ studies represent the smallest expenditure, according to the report, with only NIS 1,192 per month. This includes tuition payments and other school related expenses such as textbooks.
As far as the incomes of students in Israel, the main source is wages from work. About 78 percent of the student population works while studying and earns an average of NIS 2,190 per month.
The next largest option had 55% receiving financial assistance from their parents, which on average, amounts to NIS 700 per month.
The least common option was that 49% had a scholarship, which brings them an average of NIS 439 per month.
Reshtick however stressed that the data does not include expenses that students experience before starting their studies such as preparing and taking the psychometric exam, which costs over NIS 5,000. This expense applies to some 86% of students.
“The cost of living is the main problem students in Israel are facing and we expect that the Israeli government will understand that the coming year is a crucial year for the issue of the cost of living of the middle class in Israel and the student body in particular,” Reshtick said during Monday’s session, which was attended by Education Minister Shai Piron and Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri.
Reshtick emphasized the need for the government to keep its promise to build 20,000 dormitories for students and observed that so far, resources were only allocated for approximately 4,000 beds.
“Only 6.6% of students in Israel have a dorm bed,” he said, “This is a drop in the ocean.”