More than 12,000 college and vocational-technical (voc-tech) students across the country have so far benefited from the Social Security System’s (SSS) educational loan facility that released a total of P148.64 million in 2012.

educational loan

SSS Assistant Vice President for Lending and Asset Management Ma. Luz C. Generoso said the SSS expects more members to borrow this year under the SSS Educational Assistance Loan (Educ-Assist) Program, which has nearly P7 billion in funds still waiting to be tapped.

“The billions of pesos allotted for the program reflect the government’s firm commitment to bring education within reach of present and future workers. To a wider extent, the Educ-Assist program helps boost national economic growth through increased worker productivity,” she noted.

The pension fund earmarked a total of P3.5 billion for the SSS Educ-Assist program, which was launched during the Labor Day celebration last year. The national government chipped in P3.5 billion more as counterpart funding, for a total Educ-Assist allotment of P7 billion.

Generoso said Educ-Assist loan disbursements last year for 11,790 college enrollees totaled P145.84 million, while another P2.8 million was released for 398 students taking up voc-tech programs.

Recent adjustments in Educ-Assist guidelines have widened the field of eligible borrowers, although the loan program remains intended for those earning low or minimum wages. Initially, only active SSS members with a monthly income of P10,000 or below may borrow.

“Now, members earning up to P15,000 per month may qualify for SSS Educ-Assist loans, as long as they have up-to-date payments to other SSS loans and at least 36 monthly contributions, three of which must be posted within the 12-month period prior to application date,” Generoso said.

Beneficiaries of Educ-Assist loans may be the SSS members themselves, their legal spouse or dependent children, while unmarried members can designate their siblings, including half-brothers or half-sisters, as beneficiaries of the loan program. However, only one beneficiary is allowed per SSS member.

“The beauty of the Educ-Assist program is the sustained financial support given to the student. This is not a one-time loan release, but a series of fund disbursements until the student graduates from college or completes his or her voc-tech training course,” she added.

Maximum loan releases every semester or trimester are pegged at P15,000 for college degree programs and P7,500 for voc-tech courses. Similar to a Study Now-Pay Later scheme, loan payment will only start one year after graduation or from the date of the last loan release, at an interest rate of about three percent per annum. Members will repay the loan within five years for college courses and three years for voc-tech programs.