No more guarantors needed to access students’ loans – Clarke Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Effective April 1, Jamaicans seeking to access tertiary level education will no longer need to have a guarantor in order to secure a loan from the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB).

The SLB provides loans for more than 4,000 students each year, many of whom would not otherwise be able to continue their education.

Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke made the announcement on Tuesday during his opening presentation in the 2024/25 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives.

Clarke reminded the House that in his 2022/23 Budget contribution, he announced the removal of the requirement for guarantors to be provided for applicants who are wards of the state.

“Within 12 months of that policy change, the number of wards of the state [applying for a students’ loan] increased by 100 per cent from 46 to 98,” he said.

He also reminded that in 2023, the government lifted the requirement for guarantors for persons on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).

He said that within 12 months, the beneficiaries of students’ loans who are on PATH jumped from 92 in the previous year to 547, an increase of 185 per cent.

“In the face of this staggering evidence as to the inhibiting effect of the requirement of a guarantor, how do we keep it?” Clarke asked rhetorically before sharing a story of a constituent who works in an ice cream shop and whose son graduated from Jose Marti High School in 2019 with seven subjects.

He said the young man was desirous of attending university but could not do so because his mother was not earning enough to stand as his guarantor.

Both Sheryll and her son Maliek, were present in the gallery at Gordon House for Clarke’s Budget presentation on Tuesday.

“I want to be the first to say to them live and direct that come April 1st there will be no guarantors required for students’ loans,” he said while looking up into the gallery.

Arguing that the requirement for a guarantor for a student loan was regressive, as it discriminates against low income families, Clarke said “Under this policy, Maliek will be the first in his family, the son of an ice cream shop customer service representative, to go to university because of the policy change that I’m talking about today”.