THE STUDENTS' Loan Bureau's (SLB) new state-of-the-art online application system recorded more than 1,500 online applications during the first five days of operation.
The bureau began its online application system on January 16.
According to the bureau, it is now easier for the more than 8,000 tertiary students who apply for loans from the SLB every year, particularly those in rural Jamaica, to do so from the convenience of home or the school library.
"We are excited at the efficiency and productivity gains, which SLB online is already bringing to our operations", said Lenice Barnett, executive director of the SLB.
"This has been a historic first for Jamaica and the Caribbean region that has been at least two years in the making", she added.
HOPE TO END LAST-MINUTE RUSH
By bringing loan financing services nearer to the student-borrower, the SLB hopes to ultimately eliminate the last-minute rush in the application process, making time spent in line to submit applications a thing of the past. Students will now only be required to visit the Bureau's office, by appointment, to submit the supporting documents required for their loan applications.
Students can access 'SLB Online' by logging on to www.slbja.com, and following the simple instructions to fill out and submit their applications. A special application tutorial is built into the system to provide online assistance, in addition to a customer help desk, which will be manned by dedicated SLB customer service agents.
Of the 6,433 persons who applied for student loan financing last year, 5,876 of them, or nine out of every 10 loan applicants received loans to cover the full cost of their tuition fees. Grant-in-aid was awarded to 1,724 very needy students to assist in cost of living expenses.
In 2005, total expenditure on loans was $802 million, while grant-in-aid to the neediest of tertiary students stood at $78.7 million, as the SLB widened the approval net for more students in the face of rising tuition fees and the general socio-economic difficulties being faced by many students.