JIS News

At the beginning of the 2010/11 academic year, the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB) has processed some 10,000 loan applications for tertiary level students, of which only six are yet to be approved.
This conforms to the approval rate of up to 98 per cent in the recent past. This update was provided to JIS News by the SLB, at the beginning of the new academic year on September 6.
According to the SLB’s Public Relations Officer, Annalisa Downes, upon approval, the SLB finances 100 per cent of the approved tuition requests from new and returning students.
“Our system operates under programme-approval, that is, once applicants are approved they are funded for the full duration of their courses. The SLB is therefore committed to the full funding of their tuition,” she explained
The SLB was initially operating through a seed fund derived from a World Bank loan and subsequently funded by loans from the Inter-American Development Bank, Multilateral agencies and other funding institutions. The SLB is currently in the process of seeking additional funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
The SLB, being a revolving loan fund, is largely dependent on repayments to replenish its pool of loanable funds.
While the loans granted to students cover tuition only, students who are assessed as being extremely needy are awarded a Grant-in-Aid, which is a maximum of $50,000 per year for university students and $25,000 for other tertiary students. Beneficiary students are not required to repay grant funds.
The SLB Spokesperson observed that the SLB is a dynamic institution, which continues to adapt to the challenges of change and new demands of the market. Of note are two new products, the Parent Plus and the Post-Grad loan programmes.
According to Ms. Downes, the Parent Plus loan is specifically geared to employed persons and those who may fall outside of the threshold of the general loan, but still cannot afford the tuition fee up front, while the Post-Grad loan is available to persons who are pursuing their Masters or Doctoral degrees. These loans are repaid through salary deductions on a monthly basis over 36 months. The interest is calculated at the same rate as the general loan, 12 per cent add on per annum.
She also noted that the new Board of Directors of the SLB had been charged with the mandate of reviewing existing policies to determine where there is a need for revision or strengthening, to facilitate increased access to loans by eligible students.
All loans are due for repayment the January following the scheduled completion date of the approved course of study and must be paid by the last business day of each month.
If payment is not made within 10 days after the due date, a late fee will be charged on the loan. SLB loans carry maximum loan tenure of 10 years. The length of the course of study is included in the ten-year repayment schedule. In other words, if a student pursued a three year course, then the beneficiary will have seven years in which to repay the loans. Beneficiaries have the option to start repayment before the course ends.
A beneficiary whose account is in arrears may request that the loan be restructured. An account can be restructured for several reasons, including the need to facilitate closure of the account before maturity date and the inability of the borrower to pay the existing arrears.

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