The National Student Loan Programme was introduced in 1994. It is intended to provide loans to students who wish to pursue studies and who upon completion of their studies are expected to contribute to the Economic and Social Development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The funds for the programme are provided by the National Insurance Services to financial institutions who in turn provide loans to students.
The commercial banks, GECCU, KCCU, and the Teachers Credit Unions are the executing agencies for the programme. The Ministry of Education serves as the Secretariat for the programme and receives applications on prescribed forms from potential beneficiaries. These forms are then forwarded to the National Student Loan Advisory Committee which examines the eligibility of the student, programme, the institution, and the estimated expenses, before recommending the applications to the Financial Institutions. The Advisory Committee is comprised of representatives from the National Insurance Services, the Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. It is important to note that the recommendation of the Advisory Committee does not imply that the loan would be granted.
The Financial Institutions assess the creditworthiness of the applicants and determine which of the recommended applicants are eligible to receive loans.
The maximum limit on a loan is EC$ 120,000 and an interest of 8.5% per annum is charged. Students may choose to have their interest capitalised during the period of study. Borrowers will be required to repay the loan by monthly installments over a period of not more than 12 years commencing not later than 3 months after the date of the student’s employment after completion of the programme of study or 6 months after completion of the programme of study (whichever first occurs).
Loans will be granted for courses of up to 5 years duration. The students or their guarantors are required to provide acceptable collateral to the lender who reserves the right to decline at its discretion.
The proceeds of the loan may be used to finance the basic academic costs of enrolment, tuition, books, transportation, personal maintenance costs (including room and board), child care, legal expenses with respect to the security of the loan, insurance coverage (life) and if the borrower so requests interest on the loan during the grace period for repayment of the loan.
In 2002, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines made a policy decision to allocate a proportion of the funds for the Student Loan Programme to assist the most indigent segment of the population.
The principal beneficiaries under this programme are those persons who have the ability, but lack the financial and other resources to qualify for assistance under the Standard Student Loan Scheme.
Students accessing loans under this Programme will be required to sign a bond for the amount of the loan. In this regard, persons whose loans are approved under this programme will have their loans secured by the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In addition to the Student Loan Scheme Guidelines, an applicant would be eligible to benefit under this programme if he/she is from a household that exhibits most of the following characteristics:
All applicants must complete the standard application form. Those persons who wish to benefit under the Special Programme for the Economically Disadvantaged must, in addition to completing the standard application form, complete appendix 1 of the form. All sections of the form must be completed.
Application forms, which are available at the Service Commissions Department and the Ministry of Education and the NIS, must be completed and submitted to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education by July 31st of each year.
Recommended applicants are expected to complete the negotiations for loans with the Financial Institutions by March 31st of the academic year.
Applicants who are unsuccessful in obtaining loans during the academic year in which their applications were processed, will not be automatically considered for the following year. Unsuccessful applicants are required to either re-apply or to request in writing to the Permanent Secretary that their application be considered for the next academic year.