KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Ministry of Education is moving to secure additional funds for the Students Loan Bureau (SLB), minister Ronald Thwaites disclosed yesterday.
Thwaites said officers of the ministry are currently engaged with representatives of commercial banks and other financial institutions “to try and attract private capital into the (tertiary education) system.”
Addressing the Northern Caribbean University’s colloquium, at its main campus in Mandeville yesterday, Thwaites pointed out that the initiative comes against the background of a depletion of the SLB finances due to reported high rate of delinquency among borrowers.
“The Students Loan Bureau does good work, but the terms and conditions on which it has been funded exclude too many. And regretfully, even those 10,000 or 12,000 applicants who are (approved) each year…a high percentage of them do not honour their obligations,” said Thwaites.
“The heavy level of delinquency depletes those capital funds and prevents them from revolving, to the detriment of newcomers into the loan scheme,” he added.
Thwaites said his ministry is also exploring the possibility of lowering the interest rate on student loans, which according to the SLB website, is currently at nine per cent.
Additionally, he advised that efforts would also be made to link loan repayments to the “employment prospects” of the students after graduation.