On July 30, the government announced that a new student loan program allowing university students to repay their school loans after employment will be implemented from the spring semester of 2010. According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST), the government decided to apply the method to ease the burden of university students who take student loans to pay high tuition fees. This measure was mentioned when President Lee Myung-bak had a meeting with university students at the Korean Council for University Education building on the 30th.
The newly practiced study-first-pay-later program allows students to be free from paying interests on loans while they are attending college. Also, students can take student loans for the full years of college since the fixed limit per one person taking student loan will be removed.
However, students must meet certain requirements to receive the loan. Students who are living in a low-income family that receives financial support from the government or a family living with the annual income of lower than 48 million 390 thousand won are the only beneficiaries of this program. Also, students need to get an average grade of C to be qualified. The qualified recipients can take student loans at any time and redeem the loan by installments in 25 years after they get employed and earn income.
Soaring tuition fees have consistently been a heavy burden to many university students, especially those who live in low-income families.
According to the statistics provided by the Ewha Scholarship Welfare Center, approximately 1500 students took student loans for the first semester of this year at Ewha, and this is an increase of roughly seven percent when compared to 1400 students who took student loans for the fall semester last year.
High interest rate of student loans was a big problem too. Before the government announced that the interest rates of tuition fees will be reduced to approximately 5.9 percent from this fall semester, the student loan interest rate was 7.3 percent. Rather than concentrating on studying, students who could not afford tuition fees needed to do several part-time jobs in order to repay the interests and make a living.
“I applied for the school tuition loan for the spring semester and tried my best to repay the loan by doing a part-time job every week, but repaying the interest was already very hard for me,” said a freshman from Sungshin Women’s University who wishes to remain anonymous. Such situations led students protest for years to pressure the government to come up with the policy that relieves the burden of tuitions.
The new student loan system aims to solve the problem of many students not being able to focus on their studies due to the financial difficulties. “I believe repaying student loans after employment will also reduce the burden of many university students who feel sorry for their parents because parents usually take the responsibility of paying their child’s tuition fee in the Korean society,” said Sohn Ji-hyun (Liberal Arts, 1)
Ahn Byong-man, the minister of the MEST expects “nearly one million and 70 thousand university students will benefit from the new policy.” “Also, there will be no such situations in which students cannot study for the reason that they do not have money,” said Ahn. .
저작권자 © Ewha Voice 무단전재 및 재배포 금지