Our Readers' Opinions
August 15, 2014

Disadvantaged Student Loan woes

Fri Aug 15, 2014

Editor: I received a called from the Ministry of Education to attend an interview conducted by the board, “today for tomorrow” (talk about last minute) with regard to the disadvantaged loan I had applied for.{{more}}

I was annoyed for the fact that this is my third year of studies and an interview was already done in my first year and the loan was approved, so this was unnecessary to me. Being totally clueless as to what to expect, I went in with an open mind, only to be bombarded about my financial status and grades. Now, while I can see the need for the financial checks, shouldn’t it be taken into consideration that the purpose for the students applying for the disadvantaged loan is because they do not have access to financial help? What I find ridiculous is the interest rate that increases every year; how is this a help to us, the financially disadvantaged students? Not all students have parents, siblings or “godparents” to assist them with paying the interest. Should we be robbed of an opportunity to enhance our education and standard of living because we lack the financial resources?

The issue of grades is what annoyed me the most; the students are neither at the primary nor the secondary level; they are university students. Any grade below a B+ was deemed as not acceptable by the board; we had to sit and be criticized and scrutinized by these people, which would prove to be humiliating to anyone. We were also given their expectation of straight As for the duration of our programs. Like the old people say “put me head pon a block,” none of these people had straight As when they went to university. I was utterly furious; for the fact that we are not kids, neither are they our parents or guardians, they had some nerve to demand what we should and should not do. Yes, we understand that we are expected to do our best, but the perfect grades are not always possible, but we do try. Some students were “advised” to change their flights, because money would not be given before the end of the month, even though it was observed that change of flights would be costly, because of the late distribution of money. Vincentians are always the last to arrive on campus, thereby pushing us two and three weeks behind our school schedule; then we are left with the difficult task of playing catch up. The fascinating part of all of this is that with all this meeting with the board, the criticizing, the bombarding, they seem to forget that this is a loan, not a scholarship or a grant.

After all, we have to come back and repay the loan when our programme ends. To the board, this is not free money, it is our debt; we are not kids, we are responsible for our own future; so let us be just that, responsible.