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One-stop portal now for educational loans

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CHENNAI: Securing and repaying education loans is set to get simpler. The Centre has advised all banks to route student loans through the Vidya Lakshmi Portal (VLP). Launched by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in August 2015, it is a student-friendly , one-stop portalfor application of educational loans to multiple banks.
 The directive to the banks follows complaints of harassment lodged by students against bank staff who coerce them into repaying loans. In one instance, 23-year old engineering student Lenin committed suicide at his home in Avaniyapuram (Madurai district) in July 2016 after he was allegedly pressured into repaying a loan of `1.9 lakh by a nationalised bank. On March 31, Jaitely told the Lok Sabha that banks had been asked to adopt a noncoercive strategy to recover educational loans.

On April 12, a meeting chaired by the joint secretary, department of financial services, ministry of finance, decided that all banks would process educational loan requests via VLP , which is integrated with 27 public sector banks, seven private banks, three cooperative banks and one regional rural bank.

Linked to the National Scholarship Portal, VLP facilitates online applications for educational loans with multiple banks and helps students track applications. The Centre will monitor sanction and disbursement of loans through the portal. The ministry asked banks to upload their loan schemes on VLP .

Banks must include a link to VLP on their websites through which all educational loan applications must be uploaded after August 15 and before September 30.

Minister of state for finance & corporate affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal issued the directives in response to recommendations by city-based Education Loan Task Force (ELTF).

ELTF convener K Srinivasan invited the minister to an interactive session in Chennai in February and, on March 16, met the minister and an Indian Banks Association representative to discuss problems students face while securing and repaying education loans.

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