Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
THE FINANCIAL crisis impacting on the Students' Loan Bureau's (SLB) ability to carry out its commitment of funding tertiary studies this academic year could be resolved soon.
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites said talks with a financial institution are well advanced and payments could be made by the end of the year.
"Arrangements are falling into place for the sourcing of funds to meet the Students' Loan Bureau's commitments for this year. It appears that efforts will be successful for the funding of the approved applicants through the SLB this year," Thwaites told The Gleaner.
Last month, Monica Brown, executive director of the SLB, made a startling revelation in Gordon House when she told a parliamentary oversight committee that the bureau was struggling to make disbursements on behalf of students to tertiary institutions.
She said, for the academic period 2012-2013, the institution was facing a significant challenge to meet the $4.2 billion to be disbursed to the universities and colleges.
Thwaites said a committee has been set up to deal with the funding issues for tertiary education.
He further noted that, while focus is being placed on sourcing funds to meet the obligations for this year, attention is also being given to the future funding of tertiary education.
"The difficulties of this year are going to reoccur next year and probably in greater volume, because more and more students who need help are going to matriculate. A number of plans for financing have been put on the table, so the committee will continue its work," he said.
broaden the scope
The education minister said the aim is also to broaden the scope to reach the less fortunate persons, who are unable to access the loans because of a lack of guarantors.
"Beyond these successful SLB applicants, there are probably a couple thousand more who couldn't get a student loan because they never had a guarantor, and so we are trying hard to find unused funds within the budget to be able to assist as many of those as much as possible.
"We have to be flexible. In some cases, we would have grants, in some cases there have to be some arrangements for bonding and pay back. This, however, I can't guarantee that everybody will be covered, so we have to sift out along with the universities the neediest cases," he said in referring to future plans.