Turkish university students will only pay the principal money on the debts they own to the state-run Credit and Dormitories Agency (KYK), President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on July 18.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdoğan said: “We have decided that repayments will be made only on the loan amount received, without imposing any interest rate. With this decision, we are removing a burden of over 26 billion liras from our youth in loan repayments.”
Turkish youth previously protested on social media the exorbitant rise in the interest rate imposed on their KYK education loans, saying that they cannot pay such excessive amounts while receiving wages on the verge of survival.
The youth started to share images showing the amount of education loans they actually received versus the amount they are now asked to pay.
One student said she was required to pay back a debt of 74,000 liras, despite being granted a loan of 26,000 liras.
After the students' outcry, several opposition politicians have slammed the exorbitant raise on the alumni's debt balance, with even main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu calling on the youth not to pay their debts.
Kılıçdaroğlu on July 10 shared a newly graduate's tweet about the increase in her outstanding loan, and said: “I call on the youth: Do not pay back your KYK debts on interest. We are coming to the rulership in one year; as I have promised, only the principal money will be demanded from you, and that is when you find a job.”
Gençlere sesleniyorum: Faizli KYK borçlarını ödemeyin! Bir sene içinde iktidara geliyoruz; sözünü verdiğim gibi, sizden sadece ana para talep edilecek, o da iş bulduğunuzda. https://t.co/Dzlklm5uCy— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) July 10, 2022
After Erdoğan announced the removal of interests from education loans, the youth started to thank Kılıçdaroğlu on social media, with “Teşekkürler Kılıçdaroğlu” (Thank you Kılıçdaroğlu) becoming trending on Twitter which implied that the CHP leader forced the government to take action on the issue.
Several social media users then asked Kılıçdaroğlu to find solutions to other problems that the country is facing.
For example, the hashtag of #CHPSağlıkçıyıAta (CHP, appoint health workers) also became trending on Twitter.
Turkey's unemployment rate remains in double digits and is particularly high for young people and university graduates, who face an uncertain future amid a deep recession.