I started uni in 1996(?) and graduated in 2000 with a postgrad qualification. I was not eligible for an allowance, but did fortunately get a part time job.
My total loan for 4 years was $40,319 - IRD has stung me with an additional $32,653 worth of interest until the loan write off scheme, bringing my total loan to 72,972.29 ... fortunately I am now down to $8,210.
Sure, I have benefitted from the interest free - however the tax payer has - or will - benefit to the tune of 32K, plus all my taxes to date. It has been a very hard road to get it down to where it is and to hear about people rorting the system really irks me - it needs to be tightened up sensibly so that it can be realistically paid off but not abused.