A BILL filed at the Senate seeks to defer the payment of student loans in both public and private schools during disasters and similar emergencies, including the coronavirus pandemic.
Senate Bill 975 proposes to provide a moratorium on the collection of all fees, charges, and costs relating to student loan programs in colleges, universities, and technical-vocational education institutions.
“Many of our compatriots have lost their jobs and sources of income due to calamities such as earthquakes, typhoons, and most recently, due to the pandemic. That is why I am promoting this bill to reduce the burden of parents who send their children to school in times when they are hit by a disaster or pandemic,” Senator Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Let’s aim to temporarily ease the burden of families affected by the disaster in any student loan liability, so that they can focus on more basic and important daily expenses,” he added.
The moratorium would cover the period from the declaration of a national and local state of calamity or emergency, to 30 days after its termination. If this period exceeds 60 days, the payment of the student loan and related fees will be further deferred until the next semester or term.
The bill also protects the enrollment or graduation eligibility of students availing of the moratorium.
Under the bill, no government subsidy will be provided to private schools to cover potential cash flow problems, according to the head of Mr. Lapid’s legislative office, Abelardo P. Maglanque.
“For short term situations, the schools will be expected to absorb the financial hit to be caused by the deferment,” Mr. Maglangue told BusinessWorld in a Viber message.
“But for longer terms, we are open to looking into government financial institutions to come in and take over,” he added.
Mr. Lapid said they aim to have the bill approved “as soon as possible.” If passed into law, it will be applied retroactively for those affected by the coronavirus health emergency. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan