Atayde seeks suspension of student loan payments
The Manila Times
QUEZON CITY First District Rep. Juan Carlos “Arjo” Atayde has proposed a moratorium on payment of student loans handled by higher education institutions (HEIs) so that students affected by emergencies or calamities won’t have to worry about having to pay back the loans that are due. House Bill 7279 was filed by Atayde on February 21 and had its first reading six days later in the Committee on Higher and Technical Education, which is headed by Rep. Marquez “Mark” Go of Baguio City. The Quezon City lawmaker said if the measure becomes law, all fees, charges and costs associated with student loans, technical-vocational training institutes (TVIs) or the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education will be suspended during emergencies. It will encompass all students enrolled at state universities and colleges, local universities and colleges, private HEIs and public and private TVIs who live in areas declared to be in a state of calamity or emergency. “We have to find a way to help our students and their families when natural or even man-made calamities hit them hard. We just have to make everything easy for them, including a moratorium on the payment of student loans,” Atayde said. “It is a burden on students and their families, especially in difficult times like the aftermath of typhoons, fire and earthquakes, among other disasters,” he added. Student loans will be their least priority in terms of spending, according to Atayde, because expenditures will be focused on basic necessities for survival. The moratorium will stay in effect for the duration of a disaster or emergency and for 30 days after it is lifted. There will be no fines applied to deferred payments. “To provide adequate relief and protection to our students in times of calamities and emergencies, this measure shall allow the deferral of student loan collections for a reasonable period during and after the onset of disasters,” Atayde said. He mentioned that the moratorium will not have an unfavorable effect on the students’ eligibility for re-enrolment in succeeding semesters or terms of their graduation eligibility. “The proposed legislation doesn’t prevent public and private HEIs from implementing more favorable forms of payment relief or assistance to students affected by disasters, prohibiting students from voluntarily waiving the moratorium on student loan payments or availing of subsidies and assistance from the government,” Atayde said.