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No longer in the red, but still blue

Eithne Lehane, 29, was celebrating recently after finding her bank balance in the black for the first time since she graduated five years ago.

Miss Lehane, a Year 1 teacher at Rhyl primary school, Camden, finished four years of study pound;5,000 in debt and is still having to fork out pound;90 a month for her student loans.

Last year, she managed to scrape together enough money to buy a pound;124,000 two-bedroom flat in Walthamstow, northeast London, with her partner. But she now has a one-hour trip to and from work.

She earns more than pound;25,000, benefiting from a recruitment and retention bonus plus an allowance as art co-ordinator.

But she said high living costs plus ever-increasing bureaucracy meant she was considering leaving teaching. "I'm sure I could be doing something a lot less stressful, a lot less hassle, with a better quality of life."

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