SSS Student Assistance Loans Program: Empowering Students to Change the World

As the Covid-19 pandemic invades our daily lives as we stay at home to avoid the virus, schools across the Philippines have been forced to close their classrooms to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among our children and their teachers. It has affected their learning routine at school, as students cannot go to school, listen to their teachers, and interact with their classmates.

Despite this loss of opportunity for students to learn and experience new things at school, we will still welcome a new 2020-2021 school year starting in August. Education officials have also recommended several modalities of learning delivery, such as blended learning, distance learning, and home schooling to minimize face-to-face learning. These different learning options will reduce the exposure and possible spread of Covid-19 among teachers and students.

To ease the burden of tuition fees, the social security system’s student assistance loan program can be helpful. Launched in 2012, EALP aims to support member beneficiaries in their education spending so that they can become more informed and skilled Filipino citizens who can greatly contribute to nation building in the future.

To be eligible, the borrowing member must be under the age of 60, must have an actual monthly base salary or income of P 25,000 or less, must have at least 36 monthly contributions made (six of which should be made over the course of Last 12 months before the month of filing the EALP application) and must be up to date in the payment of salary / accommodation and other amortization of member loans. Keep in mind that those with overdue accounts are not eligible for the program.

The beneficiaries of the EALP can be the borrowing member, the legal spouse of the borrowing member, the child of the borrowing member (legitimate, illegitimate or legally adopted) and the brother or sister of the single borrowing member (including half-brother / sister). However, full scholarship holders without tuition / miscellaneous / evaluation balance are exempt under the EALP. Please note that beneficiary substitution is not allowed. Each borrower member is only entitled to one beneficiary. Another beneficiary will only be authorized after full payment of the current beneficiary’s EALP and subject to the availability of funds. They must also be enrolled in any undergraduate course offered by universities and colleges recognized by the Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development, the Philippine Civil Aviation Authority or institutions duly recognized by the Philippine government.

The amount of loan that a borrower member can apply for will depend on the direction the recipient takes. For degree courses, a maximum of P 20,000 per program session or the net balance of tuition / miscellaneous / assessment in cash, whichever is lower. For a four-year degree program or its equivalent, the maximum number of times a member-borrower can avail of the EALP is eight semesters / 12 quarters / 16 quarters, or a maximum of 160,000 P. For a five-year degree program or its equivalent, the maximum number of times a member-borrower can avail of the EALP is 10 semesters / 15 quarters / 20 quarters, or a maximum of 200,000 P. For professional courses / two-year technical, maximum P 10,000 per semester / term or net balance of tuition / miscellaneous / assessment in cash, whichever is lower. For a semester program, the maximum number of availabilities must be four semesters or a maximum of 40,000 P. For a quarter program, the maximum number of availabilities must be six quarters or a maximum of 60,000 P. The amount of the loan will be funded 50/50 by national government and SSS.

Reimbursement will begin the month following the consolidation of the EALP, i.e. after 18 months for semi-annual programs, 15 months for quarterly programs or 14 months and 15 days for quarterly programs from the month of the last broadcast. The repayment period can be up to five years for degree courses and three years for vocational and technical courses. The repayment term will be determined when consolidating the account in accordance with the preferred term of the borrower member as per the initial EALP request, the expected term based on the principal loan or the adjusted term when the borrower member does not. must not be 65 years old. or more at the end of the repayment term, whichever is shorter. If there is an outstanding balance, it will be deducted from the future benefit of the borrowing member.

The billing statement is issued the month following the consolidation of the EALP to be sent by post or electronic mail. The borrowing member must complete the SS ML-1 (Member’s Loan Payment Return) form upon payment with their name, SS number, and should mark “Educational” as the Payment Type on the form. Payment can be made by one of the SSS branches with an ATM or by one of the SSS accredited banks. Payments can also be made by deduction from the borrower member’s salary. The major EALP beneficiary will also be billed through their employer if the EALP account has been overdue for six months.

As of March 2020, there were 88,848 EALP borrower members with a total of 96,106 beneficiaries who have availed themselves of the program.

Let us not take this pandemic as an obstacle to the further education of our children, especially now that we are all heading into a very difficult future. As former South African President and political activist Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

Aurora C. Ignacio is President and CEO of SSS.

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