Government’s Student Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF) has approved approximately $20 million in new loan applications up to September this year.
In a statement this week, the SRLF of the Ministry of Education also reported moderate progress in collecting outstanding loans.
With the recent change in the Government’s policy on funding tertiary education at the University of the West Indies, the SRLF said it had taken the lead in providing student loans to cover tuition costs for the academic year beginning 2014/15.
“The SRLF will continue to be proactive in funding tertiary education for Barbadians locally, regionally and internationally in harmony with Government stated policies. It will also continue to improve its operational efficiencies to ensure its sustainability and viability,” the statement said.
“The SRLF will also wish to remind all Barbadians that in the SRLF they have a sound financial institution that is willing to partner with them if they desire to make an investment in their education,” the statement added.
It also highlighted early challenges encountered by the SRLF in collecting outstanding loan payments.
However, the statement said that by 2007 the SRLF had put in place several operational and structural measures in place that have resulted in improvements in this area. These included quarterly loan statements, an automated loan software management system, procedural manuals, the establishment of a collections unit and the contracting of attorneys-at-law to assist with the collection of payments.
The measures have resulted in the SRLF collecting more funds in repayments on an annual basis than it currently lends.
At the end of the 2013 financial year, the SRLF had also built up a healthy investment portfolio in excess of $30 million.
“It was from this investment portfolio that the SRLF was able to finance the recently imposed tuition expense for UWI students and to repay all Inter American Development Bank [IDB] loans in full in 2008,” the statement said, further noting that since 2010 the SRLF has been fully self-financing, covering all its operational and lending costs.
Amendments have also been made to the SRLF Act to accommodate a 100 per cent increase in the maximum loan to $100,000, longer pay backs, lending for part-time and distance studies, the taking of collateral security and a reduction in interest rate to a variable four per cent and in some special cases to 3.25 per cent.
As a result of these changes, the SRLF said the demand for its loans have increased.
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