:: Melisa Boutin ::
Education is highly valued in the Caribbean region, so much so, that many of us have shared childhood stories of parents, guardians and other society members drilling us to do well in school; read our school books; and aim for high academic achievement. This has been aptly parodied in Toni “Bella” Blair’s Things Jamaican Mothers Say Youtube video, that opens with the Jamaican mother saying “You take up you book from morning?” This value system, coupled with an increased access to higher education, through the availability of student loans; accessibility of online and distance learning degree programs; and a demand for students from overseas universities, has made the Caribbean Millennial generation the most poised to take advantage the opportunity to enroll and complete university level education. A prospect that had not been as widely available to their parents, so how could we not jump at the chance?
Upon completing high school, as one of the Millennial Class of graduates from the Basseterre High School in St. Kitts, I had already decided on civil engineering as my major for my undergraduate studies, and like most of my peers who were on that path to higher education, I signed up for a student loan to fund my undergraduate studies from Development Bank of St. Kitts.-Nevis. This loan represented the first financial commitment I made for my future earnings, as a 17 year old teen. I had a general understanding about how a student loan worked, but it is only after completing my undergraduate degree and started repaying my student loan, that I would learn about other aspects of the agreement, of which I had no clue.
- 9% interest is a hefty interest rate for a 5-figure debt.
- A $900 EC monthly payment sizable portion of my monthly earnings, especially when I had to service U.S. Student Loans too.
- $0.00 dollars of my first two years of repayments would go to my student loan principal balance, which I only realized last year (2015).
- 100’s of US dollars would have to be spent calling the Development Bank to keep track of my student loan payments.
- There would times when I would not receive account statements; and that there was no easy way for overseas borrowers to access their account information.
- Other borrowers have had the similar challenges.
- That this experience would lead me to want to help others to understand their student loan and avoid challenges I had to face.
Student Loan Answers Workshop + Forum at UWI Open Campus – Grenada
TA Marryshow House, H.A. Blaize Street
January, 28th at 5:30 pm (Local Time).
Not in Grenada? You can view the live broadcast and post questions too.
Just sign up to attend by clicking this link: bit.ly/studentloananswers.
A student loan borrower should have all the pertinent information needed to properly manage that debt. And, this is why we need #studentloananswers in the Caribbean.
If you are considering funding your studies from a Caribbean Bank or, you already have a loan from a Caribbean Bank, learn what you need to know to effectively manage your loan.
The forum portion of the event will facilitate an open discussion for you to share your #studentloangripe; discuss any challenges you have experienced with your student loan; and any changes you would like to see implemented by student loan servicers in the Caribbean. Don’t forget to RSVP here: bit.ly/studentloananswers or send a Whatsapp message to 646-801-8217 for more information.
Melisa Boutin is a Kittitian Millennial who is passionate about helping other Caribbean Millennials dominate their student loan debt and master their money. In December 2015 , Melisa made her final student loan payment to the Development Bank of St. Kitts -Nevis and has been assisting her peers analyze their student loan account statements; navigate the repayment process and develop plans to effectively pay off their student loan debt serviced by Caribbean Banks. Melisa plans to establish a platform to educate those with student loans throughout the Eastern Caribbean and the North American Caribbean Diaspora; and facilitate the collaborations needed to effect long overdue changes to the student loan system in the Eastern Caribbean. You can connect with Melisa on Instagram/Twitter/Periscope via @Melibisous.