Most say student loans should be interest-free with no fines for defaults: poll

Most say student loans should be interest-free with no fines for defaults: poll

A Krungthai Bank staff member demonstrates to students how they can use a QR Code to pay loan instalments.
A Krungthai Bank staff member demonstrates to students how they can use a QR Code to pay loan instalments.

A majority of people agree with a bill to amend the Student Loan Fund (SLF) Act to exempt debtors from interest and fines for defaults, according to the result of an opinion survey by the National Institute of Development Administration, or Nida Poll.

The poll was conducted on Sept 26-29 by telephone interviews with 1,312 people aged 18 and over of various levels of education, occupations and incomes throughout the country to compile their opinions after the bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Sept 14.

The bill is now with the Senate for deliberation.

On the proposed exemption of interest for those who are granted SLF loans, a large majority of respondents, 73.40%, agreed with it - with 55.18% in total agreement, reasoning that it would be a big help for low-income people as well as those who are out of a job; and 18.22% in moderate agreement, saying it would help needy people get access to education.

On the other side, 17.61% totally disagreed with the proposal, saying it would cause children of the new generation to lack financial discipline and responsibility, and it would be unfair to those who had paid their debts in full and would cause the SLF to have liquidity problems. A further 8.99% were in moderate disagreement, saying debtors should be held responsible for the loans they took out.

Asked about the proposed lifting of fines for those who default on their repayments, 61.82% agreed - with 42.76% in total agreement, saying it would be a big help for those who are still jobless or have low incomes, and 19.06% in moderate agreement, saying the fines would be a burden for low-income debtors.

On the other side, 23.32% totally disagreed with it, saying this would cause debtors to lack repayment discipline; and 14.14% in moderate disagreement, saying that it would be unfair to those who repaid their debts.

The rest, 0.38%, had no answer or were not interested.

Asked to comment on a proposal that SLF debts should be totally written off, 59.91% strongly disagreed with it, saying this would cause people to become irresponsible and might lead to complications, such as those who have repaid their debts in full would be reimbursed. A further 14.08% were in moderate disagreement, saying the SLF had already helped debtors in trouble - for example, by lowering the interest rate and the fines.

On the other side, 16.62% completely agreed with it, reasoning that people should be entitled to free education, and 8.08% were in partial agreement, saying it would help debtors with low incomes.

The rest, 0.91%, had no answer or were not interested.

Of all respondents, 61.28% said they had never had dealings with the SLF.

Of the remainder, 21.95% said they had children who were SLF debtors; 9.83% were SLF debtors who had not repaid their debts in full; 4.88% were SLF debtors who had repaid their debts; 1.75% were SLF debtors who were still studying; 0.23% were SLF debtors whose repayment defaults were being negotiated; and 0.08% were debtors who had been sued by the SLF.

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