It is an undeniable fact that the Student Loan Trust Fund has provided needy students with financial assistance. Students’ financial statuses affect their mental well-being and academics. This is the negativity the Student Loan Trust Fund seeks to eliminate.
But in recent times, students have complained about the late disbursement of funds. In December 2018, some students complained that they got their loans close to the end of first semester of the 2018/2019 academic year when exams had begun. Others had to wait till the next semester. Disbursements for the second semester came in late April this year. Again close to the end of the semester. This was after the government and the Student Loan Trust Fund (SLTF) secretariat were put under pressure by the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), the Tertiary Education Institutions Network (TEIN) and beneficiaries of the scheme.
The inability of the Student Loan Trust Fund to make timely disbursements makes its aim to reduce students’ mental stress by providing financial assistance far from actualization. Now students have to hassle throughout the semester. Living on borrowed money and being chased by debtors aren’t the best ways to maintain a sound mind to study.
Students’ financial problems
Students have complained that they struggle to survive on campus without the loan. Some say they are unable to support their parents and guardians pay their hostel fees at the beginning of the semester. According to others, sometimes getting money for food becomes a very difficult task. Printing school assignments, buying stationery and commuting one’s self to campus all require money. Sometimes the only way to survive is to borrow from friends and usually some will not let you owe them for long since they would also need the money.
Reasons for delayed disbursements according to SLTF
In a story published on myjoyonline.com in November last year, the SLTF secretariat a 50% loan amount increment at the beginning of the 2017/2018 academic year led to a surge in applications, putting a strain on the fund.
At the beginning of the 2017/2018 academic year SLTF increased its minimum amount from Ghc640 (six hundred and forty cedis) to Ghc970 (nine hundred and seventy cedis).
However, many students believe that this excuse is unacceptable as the secretariat should have anticipated the surge in applications from the beginning and prepare ahead of time.
In an interview with some beneficiaries of the Student Loan Trust Fund in the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) and Accra Technical University (ATU) students expressed desire to have the fund disbursed earlier within the semester to enable them plan ahead and prevent unnecessary borrowing.
“If it comes early it’s good. Sometimes they delay and you go for private loans. By the time the student loan comes the private loan and the interest on will even be more than the student loan”, says Mr. Nartey of ATU.
For others like Ms. Armah of GIJ who solely sponsors her education, getting the loan on time would enable her to settle her fees. This however currently impossible as SLTF on disburses loans to students who have registered for the semester and one must settle outstanding fees to be able to do that in most institutions.
Despite the secretariat’s assurance that this situation would be permanently solved, some students are still sceptical
The Student Loan Trust Fund is an agency under the Ministry of Education established in 2005. It operates under SLTF’s Act 2011, of Act 820 with the core mandate of providing financial assistance to needy students pursuing accredited programmes in both public and private tertiary institutions.
By: Michael S. Yerb Jr.
Student Journalist, GIJ