Student loans boost as crisis bites

Student loans boost as crisis bites

SLF eases criteria, ups allowances

More parents will be allowed to seek loans from the Finance Ministry's Student Loan Fund (SLF) as it boosts loan finance and eligibility criteria following the impact of Covid-19 on household incomes.

Some funding criteria will be adjusted to cover more borrowers and each student will be also granted a higher monthly allowance to help their families get through the hardship.

Usually, families eligible for the loans are limited to low-income earners with yearly earnings of not more than 200,000 baht.

"But we have extended the threshold to 360,000 baht a year in this 2020 academic year," fund manager Chai­narong Katchapanan said on Wednesday.

This will allow the Finance Ministry to help more parents who are struggling to deal with their spending, including school tuition fees, as their incomes are affected by business shutdowns under the virus lockdown.

The Student Loan Fund office has prepared 34 billion baht to grant loans to students, whose numbers are expected to reach 59,000 this year.

"The money comes from debt payments from ex-students," Mr Chainarong said, assuring the office has enough money to support the loan programmes.

"We have not used state budget since 2018."

Fund officials have also agreed to increase the monthly allowance for each student by 600 baht, Mr Chainarong said.

Senior high-school students will receive 1,800 baht a month, up from 1,200 baht, while vocational and university students, who usually receive 2,400 baht, will see the amount increase to 3,000 baht.

Mr Chainarong also encouraged students to apply for loans in fields related to 10 new targeted industries the government is developing.

The loan programme, which will run until 2023, will charge an annual interest rate of 0.5%. University students will also have their principal decreased by 30% and vocational students 50%.

The industrial development policy is aimed at supporting the state's ambitious plan to establish the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) as a hub of national modern industries.

They are next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.

The country needs more experts and skilled labourers to work in the EEC, which will cover 30,000 rai of plots in three provinces: Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao.

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