New measures to ensure repayment of student loans at the University of Guyana were announced on Friday as the Government Student Loan Agency and the Ministry of Finance seek out ways to recover outstanding monies loaned to students.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan hinted at the possibility of barring persons with outstanding debts from leaving the country until they make the necessary arrangements to have the monies repaid.
“While the Cabinet did not agree or had a proposal put about stamping passports, all information on recalcitrant borrowers will eventually be put at all immigration points and we will set up a desk at the same time for those who would be stopped from travelling to make the necessary arrangement for payment of the loan or debt prior to departure,” Jordan said.
He was at the time responding to questions on new measures to ensure repayment at the opening of a new building for the Student Loan Agency at the Turkeyen Campus.
Jordan made it clear that no decision was taken by Cabinet to have the passport of debtors stamped but said agreement was reached on placing the information at ports of entry and exit to ensure compliance with repayment.
The Minister said in addition, guarantors and students seeking future loans will be asked to provide a credit report from the credit bureau.
Jordan also confirmed an earlier announcement by the government that interest waivers will be granted.
Meanwhile, Head of the Student Loan Agency Rawle Sue-Ho explained that over the last two months and since the Agency embarked on the public awareness programme to notify students of the need to commence repayment, there has been a spike in students paying back their loans.
“In June we had over 100% increase from the previous months collections… students have been coming in to make payments on old loans with some paying off… there was a continuation of the trend in July,” he said.
A forensic audit was recently conducted at the Government Student Loans Agency which revealed that from the year 1994 to May 2015, some 17,567 or 69.4% of 25,335 student loans were deemed delinquent because students were not honouring their indebtedness.
Loans issued during the audit period (academic years 2011-2012 to 2014-2015) amounted to $1,581,422,277 of which $1,432,669,005 was issued to students at Turkeyen Campus and $148,753,272 issued to students at the Tain Campus.
But less than 10% had repaid their loans and another 5% were repaying.