A total of 64,912 college or vocational-tech students have benefited from the Educational Assistance Loan Program (Educ-Assist), a joint program of the Social Security System (SSS) and the National Government (NG).

The Educ-Assist was launched in 2012 based on SSS Circular No. 2012-010 issued on May 18, 2012. Its total fund allocation is P7 Billion, P3.5 Billion of which came from the national government and the other P3.5 Billion from the SSS. Under the program, the NG portion of the fund is interest free while the SSS portion charges a six percent interest or a blended rate of three percent for the borrower-member.

Joint Circular No. 2012-1 signed by the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance, Government Service Insurance System, and SSS in September 2012 institutionalized the grant of affordable educational loans to qualified GSIS and SSS members.

“Now on its fourth year of implementation, we are happy to be part of this joint program of SSS and the national government since we are able to continue lending a hand to our members by defraying their children’s education expenses through Educ-Assist”, said Officer-In-Charge for Asset and Lending Management May Catherine Ciriaco. Majority or 97 percent of Educ-Assist beneficiaries are enrolled in degree courses.

Ciriaco clarified that SSS did not stop granting Educ-Assist loans. “We have allocated the loan fund to those who have applied so that their dependents – who are expected to be in school for four years in the case of a bachelor’s degree, or two years for vocational or technical courses – have a better chance to finish their studies,” she added.

Interested SSS members could still apply for Educ-Assist but they will be included in the waiting list. “Any unused allocation previously committed to the existing beneficiaries are applied to waitlisted applicants. We process the Educ-Assist application of those in the waiting list, once funds become available”, Ciriaco said.

SSS has already disbursed over P2.7 billion nationwide from the Educ-Assist fund. Of the 3.5 billion NG share, P1.58 billion have been transmitted to SSS. For the year 2014, SSS has released over P 1.1 billion consisting of 72,451 loan availments.

Under Educ-Assist, members can borrow up to P20,000 per semester or trimester for college degrees while maximum loanable amount for vocational-tech course is P10,000 per semester or trimester.

The repayment process of Educ-Assist will commence a year after the beneficiary’s graduation day or after 18 months for semestral courses or 15 months for trimestral and quarter-term courses from the scheduled last release date or from the date of last release for those who will not avail of the subsequent releases, whichever comes earlier. Borrowers for college degree programs are given five years to repay the loan, while for vocational-tech courses, the repayment timeline is three years.