Beneficiaries of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) who apply to the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB) will no longer need guarantors to support their application starting the new academic year in September.
Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke made the announcement while opening the budget debate during Parliament on Tuesday (March 7).
Clarke said that the ‘no guarantor policy’ reaped success with wards of the State, with the SLB now having 98 applicants from that category, up from 46 a year before.
In addition to extending the policy to PATH beneficiaries, he announced that for fiscal year 2023/24, the SLB plans to make an additional 4,200 grants of $60,000 available to students from PATH households or from households with income of less than $1.5 million. These students will also benefit from a waiver of application fees to access loans from the SLB.
He also highlighted the continued improvements in operations at the SLB.
The first phase of implementation of a new loan management system, which was launched in June 2022, has allowed for all applications and supporting documents to be submitted online.
Clarke shared that full implementation of the loan management system will be completed during the 2023/24 fiscal year and will include online loan repayment, online loan balance queries, and online loan statements.
He told the House that during 2022/23, a total of 7,111 SLB customers benefited from a two per cent point reduction in the interest rate on their loans by remaining current with the SLB.
“By adjusting the payment allocation policy to apply payments to the oldest billed amount first, [the] delinquency rate has improved by 2.2 per cent,” said Clarke.