By: Fred Yaw Sarpong
The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) , which hitherto managed the SSNIT Students Loan Scheme set up to assist students in tertiary institutions to defray some personal and academic expenses while in school has said that as at the end of January 2014, about 58,557 students were still indebted to the Scheme.
This represents 30% of 192,746 students who owed the Scheme before it was replaced by the Students Loan Trust Fund (SLTF) in 2006. This was made public by Mrs Evangeline Amegashie, Corporate Affairs Manager of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) .
In 2006, the Students Loan Trust Fund (SLTF) was set up by the Government as a permanent body to replace the SSNIT Students Loans Scheme. This meant that new applicants to the scheme from 2006 were serviced by the SLTF, and not SSNIT.After the cessation of the SSNIT Students Loan Scheme, continuing students under the SSNIT Scheme however continued to be paid till January 2012.
In a phone conversation with Mrs Amegashie, she told the Daily Express that SSNIT is recovering all loans it has issued to student from decades, before the SLTF took over.
"This activity when carried out successfully will make more funds available to enable the trust fund invest the loan recoveries prudently to sustain the fund".
Approximately 134,189 persons representing 70% student’s loan beneficiaries have completely repaid their loans.
According to SSNIT, " these loan repayments were made through a medley of the repayment options. The options were cash repayment, offset with social security contributions, deductions from beneficiary/guarantor benefits, mandating employer to deduct from salary, and refund from scholarship and bursaries."
It stated that in order to ensure that the loan borrowed from the workers’ contributions are incontrovertibly repaid, it was mandatory for each borrower (student) to provide three guarantors who were social security contributors and had been members of the Social Security Scheme (SSS) for not less than five years.
It added that this obviously was to guarantee the repayment of the loan. That is, in the event that the student loan beneficiary is unable to repay the loan, the guarantorship clause would be invoked. "So far, 137,437 guarantors have been released under this repayment exercise," SSNIT noted.
The Government of Ghana since independence made several attempts to establish a Students Loan Scheme. For instance, in 1971 and in 1975, Student Loans systems were operated by the Government of Ghana but failed as a result of change in governments and a high default rate.
The SSNIT Students Loan Scheme was started in January 1988 and was administered by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) on behalf of the Government of Ghana, under the Students Loan Scheme, (PNDC Law 276) of 1992.