Govt’s loan write-off initiative marks major relief for students

In line with its manifesto pledge to provide free tertiary education by 2025, the government has announced the commencement of phase one of the loan write-off program for University of Guyana students.

Over 13,000 Guyanese students are expected to benefit from $11 billion in student loan relief in this initial phase.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance and Public Service, Dr Ashni Singh

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance and the Public Service, Dr Ashni Singh made this announcement on Monday.

He said the government will waive all loans owed by Guyanese who can demonstrate completion of their course of study and graduation. They must have been employed or self-employed in Guyana for at least three years, evidenced by a minimum of 156 contributions to the National Insurance Scheme.

The move has garnered widespread approval from University of Guyana (UG) students, who see it as a significant stride toward easy access to higher education.

Canisha Primo, Environmental science student

Canisha Primo, an Environmental Science Student, commended the initiative, stating, “This directly combats brain drain, so you would find people who go to UG, take their loans to use as payment and then they leave, for whatever case it may be.

“So, this would encourage persons to not only go to UG to further their education but to stay in the country and to invest their efforts into the country.”

Damani Thomas, Environmental Management Student

Damani Thomas, pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Management, highlighted the opportunity for graduates to advance their studies without the burden of debt.

He stated, “It allows graduates to further their studies. They won’t have to be thinking of ways to pay it back and then do a master’s or PHD afterwards … it encourages more career opportunities. You don’t have to be stressing to find a high paying job that’s not in your field just to pay off your loans. I can start small in your field of choice and build my way up.”

Daryl Manawar, Biology student

Daryl Manawar, a Biology Student, expressed relief at the prospect of shedding the financial burden of student loans.

“The students would no longer have that burden on them that they’ve been carrying for years. They would be so relieved and that’s a great impact on their lives,” he said.

International Relations Student Talya Gray emphasised the significant relief the loan write-off will bring to Guyanese students, saying, “This is going to help students move forward in the next chapter of their lives without worrying about how they will pay back their loans. It’s a great relief.”

International Relations student Talya Gray

Meanwhile, Corissa McClure, a graduate in Social Sciences and International Relations from the University of Guyana, praised the government’s initiative for injecting more funds into the hands of Guyanese citizens and contributing to the development of a skilled and diverse workforce

“Through this student loan debt write-off, the government is directly putting more funds into the hands of Guyanese across the country… Additionally, as the fastest-growing economy in the world, it is extremely important to possess a more skilled and diverse workforce. Through the debt write-off, it will help Guyana do just that,” she said.

Corissa McClure, graduate in Social Sciences and International Relations

In December last year, President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali announced that a phased programme would be implemented to achieve free tertiary education at the country’s premier institution.

The Head of State disclosed then that persons who currently have loans at the university will be the first group of the student population the phased approach will target.

In January, Vice-President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo said that the government will also have to establish a mechanism to assist those students who would have already paid their dues to the university but are currently repaying loans to commercial banks.

Through this initiative, the PPP/C Government is not only alleviating the financial burden on students but also fostering an environment where talent and potential can flourish unhampered by financial constraints. This commitment to education underscores the administration’s commitment to empowering Guyanese and providing them the opportunities to participate in nation-building.

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