After West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched the Student Credit Card scheme to provide soft loans to students for higher education on June 30, more than 10,000 applications have been received for the scheme in just six days.
“So far, little more than 10,000 students have applied for loan and we will send the applications to the banks after examining the documents. The students will not get the money in their hands. The money will be sent directly to the institution. The Chief Minister has warned that there should not be any kind of allegations against this scheme, so we are trying to make it absolutely transparent,” said a senior official of the state finance department.
According to state government officials, of the 10,000 applicants, 7,000 have applied to study in the state while the rest of the applicants want the state government to finance their studies in other states.
According to initial estimates, the state government will have to cough up around Rs 5000 crore from the state exchequer for the scheme, and it is expected that the number of applicants will be much higher than the initial figures.
“We expect the loan amount to touch around Rs 1,500 crore in the first year,” the official said.
According to state government officials, most of the applications have come from Kolkata and its suburbs.
“A large number of applications have come from South and Central Kolkata. Apart from that, some applications have come from Howrah and Hooghly districts. Only 1,800 of the 10,000 applications have come from other districts. We hope in the next few days students from the other districts will start applying and numbers will multiply,” the official said.
Under the scheme, Banerjee has introduced a unique financial assistance to the students through which the students will be able to avail a soft loan of up to Rs 10 lakh for their studies.
The students will have to pay the amount with 4 per cent interest within 15 years from the date of disbursement. The state government will pay the rest of the interest to the banks directly. The students don’t need to present any guarantor because the state government will be the guarantor for all the students.
This will not only be extended to the students who make it to the premiere institutes, as the loan will also be available to provide support to the students who want to prepare for top central and state government jobs like UPSC and PSC.
“The education loan shall also be extended to the students studying in various competitive coaching institutes to appear in IITS/ IMs / NLUS / IAS / IPS/WBCS or other competitive examinations. It will cover various institutional/non-institutional expenses to ensure that no student from the state is deprived of education due to lack of fund support,” an official said.
Earlier, after the state cabinet approved the scheme, the Chief Minister had said, “This was in our election manifesto and it is one of our major schemes like the Kanyashree or Sabujshree to provide financial support to the students. We want them to fulfil their dreams.
“A student can get a soft loan of up to Rs 10 lakh to pursue higher studies with the help of the credit card. A student up to the age of 40 years can apply for the loan. Fifteen years will be given to a student to repay the loan after getting a job. The interest rate would be low so that the student can repay the loan easily.”