The Students Loan Trust Fund (SLTF) has disbursed about GH¢20.4 million to 16,637 students in the country’s tertiary institutions for the 2018/2019 academic year.
The beneficiaries include 1,500 fresh applicants whose applications have been validated by the fund.
The loans, which represent disbursement for last year, are meant to defray personal expenses, including fees, the cost of boarding, lodging, books and equipment and for other purposes that may be necessary for borrowers’ courses of study.
According to the SLTF, it received an average of 15,000 new borrowers in the 2014/2015, 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 academic years.
The Head of Communications at the SLTF, Mr George Laing, told the Daily Graphic that the only applicants yet to receive their money were those in 49 institutions which were yet to present their lists of registered students to the fund.
He explained that the institutions were mostly small private institutions, adding: “This means students from those institutions cannot be paid yet.”
Asked about the percentage of students who had been paid, he said the number kept going up, since some fresh students were still registering.
In 2016, 32,000 students received GH¢78 million from the fund to cushion them against financial difficulties.
The Daily Graphic, in its November 23, 2018 edition, drew attention to the dire situation of students who depended on the financial aid to meet some of their pressing needs.
To meet hikes in the expenditure of the students, the SLTF increases the loan amount to each student every academic year. Last year, the minimum was GH¢2,000 and a maximum GH¢3,000.
In 2016, the minimum amount was increased from GH¢650 to GH¢1,000 and the maximum from GH¢1,600 to GH¢2,000. However, that led to a considerable strain on the fund, the managers said.
The delay in releasing the funds this year had caused anxiety among students until the fund released a statement saying: “The SLTF takes its mandate of providing timely financial assistance for students who need it seriously and would like to assure the public that this situation is a temporary one which is being addressed with the long-term view in mind.”
As of September 2017, the trust had recovered at least 60 per cent of the loans it disbursed to students.
In June 2016, the SLTF published the names of 31,223 people who had collected loans to the tune of GH¢78 million and had defaulted in payment.
Some of the names published on its website were said to have been in default for close to 10 years.
The trust is threatening to publish those names in the dailies again if the defaulters fail or refuse to make payments.