The New Democratic Party (NDP) in August of this year, promised as part of its ‘to do’ list if it formed government after the next general election (Nov. 05), to reduce the interest rate on student loans from the current rate of 8.5% to 4.5%.
They may still have a chance to do so, though, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government has sneaked in an early punch on the same issue.
During a virtual meeting last week Thursday, Oct. 08, the same night the date for the general election was announced, Prime Minister and leader of the ULP Dr. Ralph Gonsalves disclosed that recipients of student loans will get a one-year waiver on their repayments, for the period September 01, 2020 to August 31, 2021.
The waiver, as per Gonsalves’ announcement, will apply to loan recipients who have graduated and are still repaying, and those who are currently studying.
This announcement, according to some who have been observing the campaign leading up to the November 5 election, came as a direct response to the BDP campaign promise as referenced earlier in this article.
And Gonsalves delivered a more direct punch on the NDP promise, when he said he was already in discussion with the Chairman of the Student Loan Company – Stewart Haynes, Executive Director of the NIS – with a view to reducing the interest rate to 5 or 6%, with a preference for the lower figure.
He promised, though, that a reduction will be made once the computations for both suggested rates have been worked through.
The Student Loan Programme was introduced in 1994. It has a maximum loan limit of EC$120,000 and loans are expected to be repaid at a rate of 8.5% per annum, in monthly installments over a maximum of 12 years.