Can't you learn without debt?

Educational expenses that put pressure on “middle-class” households April 1, 16:33

"I wanted to push my child's back, so I had only this option."

A 50-year-old man decided to borrow a 2.5 million yen mortgage to cover his son's tuition for going to college this spring. I did.

Permanent employees, married couples working together, and my home.

At first glance, it may seem like a stable, so-called “middle-class” lifestyle, but children's education costs weigh heavily on their household budget.

Young people who enter the university with expectations as the new year begins.

Behind the scenes, the reality that you can't learn without borrowing money is spreading.

(Social Affairs Department Reporter Ryota Miyazaki / Good Morning Japan Director Yukiyo Nakamura)

I want to push my son's back ...

"I'll enjoy having this"

Ryo Makino (50 years old, pseudonym) lives with his wife and two sons.

He worked as a full-time employee of a security company, and while he returned home late at night, he surrounded the table with his family for the first time in a long time on this holiday.

His eldest son will go on to a private university this spring.

Mr. Makino once again heard from his son that he wanted to study writing at university and aim for a writing job in the future.

"Enjoy your school life to the fullest," he sent an ale as his father.

20,000 yen for 20 years of salary increase

However, the university tuition, which amounts to about 4 million yen in four years, weighs heavily on the household budget.

The big factor is that Mr. Makino's salary has not risen.

The current basic salary is 168,000 yen a month.

Compared to the salary statement when I joined the company 20 years ago, the basic salary was only 20,000 yen higher.

At the time of joining the company, Makino said that if he continued to work for a long time, he would have more time to support his family.

Mr. Makino (pseudonym)

"I didn't expect to be in a tight state so far. The company also said something like" You can expect a salary increase, "and I thought that your salary would increase."

If you pay the tuition fee, your household will be a fire truck.

Makino's annual income is about 3 million yen.

Together with the nurse's wife, the annual household income is about 7 million yen, but it is said that the household budget is already at the limit.

The monthly take-home is 400,000 yen for the couple.

On the other hand, living expenses are about 380,000 yen including mortgages and car loans.

If the monthly tuition fee of about 80,000 yen is added to that, the household will be in a big deficit.

Mr. Makino (pseudonym)

"I want to push my back as a parent to do what my child wants to do, and I want to do it as a parent's responsibility until the children leave the society ... The household budget is under further pressure and I can't make ends meet anymore. "

"A tight future is waiting"

Even if you cut down on your household budget, you will not be able to pay for your tuition.

With no savings, Makino decided to borrow a 2.5 million yen mortgage loan to cover the tuition fees.

We plan to repay it over the next 10 years.

My second son will be in the second year of high school from this spring.

Thinking about the future, Makino muttered, "A tight future is waiting for us."

Makino-san (pseudonym)

"If we get sick and fall down, I feel that various things will go bankrupt at that moment, so I'm really worried. I have to continue my life. "

“Middle class” layer that does not apply to the support system

Why is going to university a big burden on households?

One of the backgrounds is the fact that university tuition fees continue to rise.

The average annual tuition fee for private universities has increased 1.5 times from about 620,000 yen to about 930,000 yen over the last 30 years.

Under these circumstances, the national government has been expanding its support system to low-income households since FY2020.

For example, in the case of a family of four with university students and junior high school children, if the annual household income is "less than 3.8 million yen", you will

be eligible for ▽

reduction or exemption of tuition fees ▽

scholarship payment without repayment .

However, through this interview, it has become clear that the burden of going on to university for children is heavy even for families who are in the so-called "middle class" and do not fit into this support system.

As we continue to cover the theme of "the sinking middle class," we finally asked Mr. Makino, "Do you think your current life is a" middle class "life?"

Mr. Makino (pseudonym)

"The ideal" middle class "is an image that you can cover the expenses for your family with your own income and also have the time to enjoy your leisure time. It may seem like you're doing it from the outside, but it's actually just barely there. I personally feel that the ideal "middle class" is far from the world. "

Increasing number of cases where children learn by borrowing money

Like Mr. Makino, parents sometimes take out loans to cover school expenses, but there are increasing cases where children themselves borrow money and learn in the form of “scholarships”.

According to the Japan Student Services Organization's Student Life Survey, the number of scholarship users increased from 21.4% in 1994 to 49.6% in 2020.

Now, one in two students are on scholarships.

In particular, the number of users is increasing in the “middle class”.

This graph is an expert analysis of the percentage of scholarship users by the annual income of the major household earners.

From 1991 to 1995,

▽ Annual income of less than 2.5 million yen was used by 52%

, mainly for low-income groups.

In 2019,

▽ Annual income of 2.5 million yen to less than 5 million yen will be 56%

▽ Annual income of 5 million yen to less than 7.5 million yen will be 41%

▽ Annual income of 7.5 million yen to less than 10 million yen

will be used by 31%

It has become.

Professor Emeritus Masayuki Kobayashi, who specializes in sociology of education, points out the following.

Professor Emeritus Masayuki Kobayashi , The University of Tokyo

"The number of people going on to higher education has increased and the requirements for using scholarships have been relaxed. It can be said that the number of non-existent households is increasing in the “middle class” class. ”

Even "regular employees" are worried about scholarship repayment

How does the burden of repayment affect the lives of children who have borrowed scholarships?

Takashi Yasuda (33 years old, pseudonym) borrowed more than 7 million yen in scholarship to study at university.

He now works as a full-time employee of an advertising company and earns about 3.5 million yen a year.

The monthly take-home is 200,000 yen, and from there, 35,000 yen is repaid every month.

Mr. Yasuda visited the law firm on that day.

Although I am able to repay without delay now, I consulted that I am not sure if I can continue to repay by maintaining stable income as the company's business performance deteriorates due to the influence of Corona.

Mr. Yasuda (pseudonym)

"There was talk of not knowing if the bonus could be given as before. I'm worried if I don't always earn a fixed amount."

Attorney Yuzuru Kamoda, who responded to the consultation, said, "In the unlikely event that your income drops and you are about to be overdue, there is a repayment grace system, so please consider it."

40% of full-time employees "Scholarship repayment is difficult"

In fact, there is a survey result that 40% of full-time employees, like Mr. Yasuda, feel that it is difficult to repay their scholarships.

Attorney Kamoda, who has responded to scholarship repayment consultations for many years, says that recently, due to the corona sickness, there are a series of consultations from people who were thought to be stable, such as regular employees.

Attorney Yuzuru Kamoda

"Even if you are a regular employee with a stable annual income, you will get the impression that your income is declining due to corona damage. I have a sense of crisis about increasing. "

Scholarship repayment As a “shackle” in life planning

Mr. Yasuda continues to repay the scholarship.

It is expected that it will take 15 years to pay off.

Mr. Yasuda says that while I think that I am able to work as a full-time employee now because I was able to go to university with a scholarship, the repayment of the scholarship also feels like a "shackle" in my life plan.

Mr. Yasuda (pseudonym)

"In fact, it is synonymous with having a debt, so I honestly hesitate to get married or have children in the future. Even if I try to change jobs to raise my income, I fail. I'm scared if I don't get any income temporarily. I feel even more timid when it comes to taking some action. "

Is the “sinking middle class” accelerating at the expense of education?

Many people feel like Mr. Yasuda.

In the survey mentioned above, we also asked about "the effect of scholarship repayment on marriage", but 34.8% answered that it was "influenced".

Professor Emeritus Kobayashi said that the “middle class” who are suffering from the burden of education costs are in the midst of the era of “senior wages” where income increases depending on the length of service and “lifetime employment” where stable income and employment are secured. , I point out that there is a possibility that it will increase in the future.

On top of that, he warns that if the number of such people increases, it could have a serious impact on society as a whole.

Professor Emeritus Masayuki Kobayashi , The University of Tokyo

"If you are late in marriage or hesitate to have children because of scholarship repayment, it will lead to the problem of declining birthrate. The vitality of society as a whole will be lost, and the power to innovate will be less likely to occur. There is a need to create a system that supports the "middle class" as well. "

Through this interview, I witnessed the ironic fact that the scholarships that should be hoped for in the future are rather a “shackle”.

I think that learning as young people want and then going out into society and playing an active role will lead to the enrichment of society as a whole.

I felt that young people are required to create a society where they do not have to give up on going on to higher education or their lives afterwards.

In the series "Sinking Middle Class", we will continue to cover and convey your voice.

Currently, we are looking for questionnaires about "loans" in your daily life.

[Click here for the questionnaire]

Please feel free to contact us.

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Ryota Miyazaki ,

Reporter, Social Affairs Department Joined the Yamagata Bureau in


After working at the Yamagata Bureau, he is currently

in charge of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, focusing on employment and working styles.

Good morning Japan


Yukiyo Nakamura

Joined in 2015

After working at the Kitakyushu Bureau and Fukuoka Bureau,

we covered poverty and labor issues under the theme of the current social disparity.