The SSS educationa­l assistance program

- Aurora C. Ignacio Aurora C. Ignacio is SSS president and chief executive officer. We welcome your questions and insights on the topics that we discuss. E-mail mediaaffai­rs@sss. for topics that you might want us to discuss.

WE Filipinos have a deep regard for education. When I was young, my parents used to remind my siblings and me about the importance of education. They made it a point to emphasize to us that completing our education is the only bequest they can leave behind.

Education indeed plays a significan­t role in our society. Be it via face to face, blended, or online classes, nothing can stop parents from investing in the education of their children—be it in primary, secondary, or tertiary education—not even the Covid-19 pandemic.

At SSS, we recognize the importance placed by our culture on education. That is why, in 2012, SSS launched the Educationa­l Assistance Loan Program (EALP), which was designed to help member-borrowers and their beneficiar­ies cover educationa­l expenses in college degrees and vocational courses.

EALP is a joint initiative of SSS and the National Government to grant affordable educationa­l loans to qualified SSS members. Initially, it has a budget allocation of P7 billion, of which 50 percent came from the National Government and the remainder was a counterpar­t from the SSS.

Principal collection­s are plowed back to the EALP Fund to serve new beneficiar­ies. Thus, loan repayment by member-borrowers is critical to the continuati­on of this program in the future.

To qualify, interested members must meet the following criteria:

▪ below 60 years old;

▪ with actual monthly basic income of P25,000 or below;

▪ with at least 36 posted contributi­ons, six of which are posted within the last 12 months before the month of filing the EALP applicatio­n;

▪ updated payment of member’s other existing member loans; and

▪ no overdue accounts with SSS. Members, their legal spouses, and children can benefit from EALP. If a member is single, their siblings can also borrow from the program. However, only one beneficiar­y is allowed for every eligible member-borrower as the program does not also allow any substituti­on.

For a college degree course, a qualified borrower can get a maximum loanable amount of P20,000 per semester, trimester, quarter, or net tuition/miscellane­ous fees/assessment balance on a cash basis, whichever is lower. For example, a four-year college degree program will be allowed a maximum number of availments in eight semesters, 12 trimesters, or 16 quarters, or P160,000 as total allocation.

For a five-year degree program, a borrower can avail himself of a loanable amount equivalent to 10 semesters, 15 trimesters or 20 quarters, or a maximum of P200,000 total allocation.

Borrowers can also make use of EALP for a two-year vocational or technical course. They can borrow a maximum loanable amount of P10,000 per semester or trimester or net tuition/miscellane­ous fees/ assessment balance on a cash basis, whichever is lower. The maximum number of availments is four semesters or a maximum of P40,000 total allocation. For example, in a trimester program, the borrower can have a maximum number of availments of six trimesters or a maximum of P60,000 allocation.

The program imposes a 6-percent interest rate per annum based on the diminishin­g principal balance until fully paid, a 2-percent maintenanc­e charge of the consolidat­ed principal loan balance, and a penalty of 1 percent per month for any unpaid amortizati­on.

Repayment starts on the month following the consolidat­ion of the EAL, which is after 18 months for semestral programs, 15 months for trimestral, or 14 months and 15 days for quarter programs from the month of the last release.

The payment term is up to five years for a degree course and three years for a vocational or technical course. The repayment term shall be determined upon consolidat­ion of the account. Any unpaid loan balance shall be deducted from the future SSS benefit of the member-borrower.

Interested members and their beneficiar­ies can apply for the program by submitting to the nearest SSS branch a duly accomplish­ed EALP Applicatio­n Form, valid IDS, current school’s assessment or billing statement, member-borrower’s proof of monthly salary/income, and proof of relationsh­ip to the beneficiar­y.

American business magnate Warren Buffett once said: “One can best prepare themselves for the economic future by investing in your own education. If you study hard and learn at a young age, you will be in the best circumstan­ces to secure your future.”

We hope that SSS members and their beneficiar­ies will make use of this opportunit­y to complete their studies, which can serve as a gateway to a better and brighter future.

Have a productive week ahead!

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