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Not everyone on National Student Loan list is delinquent – PM

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Although there is delinquency of almost 25 per cent in the national student loan programme, not all the individuals whose names were published recently by the National Student Loan Company are delinquent.

So says Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who, while speaking on WE FM on Wednesday, said it was not the intention of the company to shame persons in any way.

“A lot of the students are paying and they are out of touch for one reason or another and the student loan company wants to [touch] base with them and I don’t think that people should run off on a tangent and try to shame them,” Gonsalves, who is also the Finance Minister said.

On July 28, the National Student Loan Company published in SEARCHLIGHT the names and addresses of 112 persons, asking them to contact a representative of the company. This action led many to infer that these persons were not servicing their loans.

But Gonsalves says that while some persons are in fact delinquent, that is not the case for many of the persons on the list. He added that the company was trying to contact these persons for one reason or another.

“We are not throwing anybody under the bus,” he explained. “What I understand from the Student Loan Company, they would have written people and they didn’t respond.”

He further urged individuals whose names were published to make contact in order to discuss the matter.

Persons who benefit from student loans through the company via the Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines (BOSVG) have access to funds of up to $120 thousand and $150 thousand for students studying in the fields of law or medicine.

These loans, which are designed for economically disadvantaged individuals, are guaranteed by the Government, through the signature of the Minister of Finance.

And the Prime Minister revealed that of over 90 million guaranteed by the Government, delinquency has risen to between 20 and 25 per cent.

“If you don’t pay the bank, the bank involves the Student Loan Company and the guarantee becomes triggered, which means that the Government will have to make the payment, but still you will have a bad credit with the bank,” Gonsalves said.

The Prime Minister noted that while there were legal ways in which to pursue the matter of delinquency, the company only wants to contact persons in order to come up with a solution, whether it is to amend payments to a later date.

“If you have a difficulty, go and talk to the Student Loan Company. They may understand your difficulty,” Gonsalves urged. “You may have a serious problem with your family where you have to help with your salary; go and explain, just like you will do with a bank.”

He added that education was an investment, one that the Government has invested in tremendously to make it easier for young people to be able to achieve a university degree.

Gonsalves noted that the Government pays economic cost for students at the University of the West Indies, which is equivalent to about $20 thousand per student. He also disclosed that tuition scholarships were available each year for up to 80 students, at a value of up to $25 thousand for each student.

The Finance Minister said that these instruments were available to students in addition to the student loans. However, he encouraged persons to be frugal while at university, in order to lessen the burden when they have to pay back.(BK) 

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