Scotia Launches Student Loan
Scotiabank is once again demonstrating its desire to make the life of the average Jamaican that much more bearable. This time, their altruism takes the form of a welcome alternative to the traditional student loan programme utilised by many students across the nation.
Scotiabank, along with the University of the West Indies (UWI), has launched the Scotia Professional Student Plan (SPSP) to alleviate some of the stresses of students.
"Scotia Professional Student Plan was conceived more than two years ago, a long gestation period I will admit. However, today, we are celebrating the birth of a programme that has the potential to change the landscape for the financing of tertiary education forever," said the jubilant Pamela Douglas, director of the Small Business Line at ScotiaBank at the University of the West Indies, Medical Building Conference Room last Thursday.
She emphasised that many promising students see their grades suffer as a result of the financial and practical burden of the realities of pursuing medical science. Scotiabank noted that the average cost of students pursuing medical degrees is $3 million and this is often crippling for many middle- and low-income families.
The programme is limited to students pursuing a degree in medicine already enrolled in the UWI. However, Douglas is confident the programme will expand, "After a year, the programme will be evaluated and, if considered a success - which I have no doubt it will be - we will add other students in our target professional segment on a phased basis," she said.
The applicants must also be residents of Jamaica and are required to present assets to establish their capacity to repay. This includes a guarantor who will act as co-borrower. Jason Williams, a fourth-year medical student pursuing a bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery degree and vice-president of the Jamaica Medical Students' Association, asked when students could start applying for the loan. He was told, "Tomorrow" (last Friday), by Douglas.
The biggest difference between the offer made by Scotia and the traditional student loan apparatus is the grace period offered after graduation for repayment. It is 18 months compared to the six-month stint allotted by the Students' Loan Bureau (SLB) to find employment and begin paying off the loan. Also notable is the availability of funds which allows every student the chance to access of a loan of up to 100 per cent of tuition fees.
Both the student and the co-borrower (parent/guardian) will be primarily held responsible for the loan.