Past and current students of the University of Guyana (UG) can now repay their student loans using GTT’s Mobile Money Guyana (MMG) service.
GTT, the Ministry of Finance and UG yesterday launched the new payment option, which is expected to make repayments hassle free.
Speaking at the launch yesterday, Finance Minister Jordan said the new option is “fast and secure” and all that is required is a GTT handset and an MMG account. He noted the partnership is another in a series of initiatives that the ministry has undertaken to improve the ease with which students can repay their loans, which represent taxpayers’ money that was invested by government in their education. He, however, lamented that the investment has only been partially repaid. “I say partially because [it] is no secret that since the setting up of the Student Loan Agency as a department of the Ministry of Finance around 1994, nearly $10 billion has been disbursed to past and present students of the university,” he said before noting that of the 28,936 loans issued so far, a substantial 20,301 are delinquent.
The said the figure was “unacceptably large” and the “recalcitrance and disinterest” that has led to the situation must be halted. Students, graduates and guarantors, he emphasised, have to work together to reverse the situation. He said too that the government has shown its willingness to be engaged and has already provided the first steps.
Jordan pointed out that as part of the 50th independence anniversary observances last year, the government offered substantial discounts to graduates both at home and abroad but most did not take up the opportunity to repay their debts. He said there were many excuses, including the absence of more advanced payment options. As a result, the idea of repaying the loans through the GTT’s MMG service was birthed.
The minister also noted that in addition to a new director and new administrative manager, more changes will be made to reshape the Student Loan Agency. He informed that soon more loan officers, a lawyer and accountant will be added to the agency. The minister also said that the criteria for loans are being redefined as is the system of guaranteeing the loans. “We are also working on putting in place a new loan computer system to replace the ancient technology currently in place,” he said. “Bold adjustments are necessary in a dynamic environment. These are ongoing and will continue until we are satisfied that we have an agency of which all of us can be proud,” he added.
Also speaking at the launch, GTT CEO Justin Nedd said the loan repayment option is easy. “Students just have to enter their UG registration number, the amount they wish to pay and press send,” he said. A service fee of $100 would be attached to each transaction.