Government, will from the beginning of the next academic year –2017/2018, increase the amount of loans that tertiary students are eligible to take for a period of two semesters, by 50 percent.
Currently, students are eligible to take a loan amount of a minimum of GH¢650 to GH¢1,000, and a maximum of GH¢ 1,600 to GH¢2000, payable over two Semesters. The government gave the assurance in the 2017 education budget which has been approved by Parliament, which will further increase the loan amount by 50 percent, starting from the next academic year.
This means that the minimum a student can get as a loan from government is GH¢1,100, and a maximum of GH¢2,000, depending on the students’ financial needs. In 2014, the Auditor’s General report revealed that there was a sharp decline in funding to needy students by the Students Loan Trust Fund, with disbursements decreasing by 9.6 percent from 2010 to 2011, and a further 28 percent from 2011 to 2012. In 2010, loans were disbursed to 26,955 students, a number which decreased to 18,605 in 2011, and decreased further to 13,833, in 2012.
The increase of the amount by 50 percent in 2017/2018 academic year has raised concerns among stakeholders in the education sector as a result of challenges the Fund has been facing in the past. Currently, the only source of funding is the allocation from GETFund, representing 10 percent of inflows into the Fund.
The allocation does not even come in full most times. Experts have suggested to the Fund that in order not to stifle the objectives of the Fund, its management must take advantage of other sources of funding, such as voluntary contributions which are tax deductible, as well as, mobilization of resources from local and international partners interested in the advancement of tertiary education. It is estimated that about 380,000 students, from both private and public tertiary institutions, have benefitted from the Fund.
Education budget for the 2017 fiscal year was increased by GHc1 billion, this according to the Vice President, who was speaking at the town hall event marking the new government’s 100 days in office, said is an indication that the government is committed to investing in the education sector. The total budget for the Ministry of Education, including GETFund, saw an increase of 20.7 percent in 2017 from GHc7.55billion in 2016 to GHc9.12billion.
As a social intervention package by government, students are entitled to take the loan for a maximum of 6 years in their education life-cycle; and a 2-year grace period after completion, and a repayment period of between 2 and 10 years to repay, depending on the number of years one enjoys the loan.
There is also a challenge in the recovering of loans from debtors as many students who have completed for many years are still indebted to the Fund, making it difficult for the Fund to mobilise additional money for potential students who are in need of money. Source: The B&FT