The Indian government has announced the launch of Vidya Lakshmi, a student loan portal on which interested students can with a single application form apply to multiple banks for a student loan. A total of 13 banks have registered 22 education loan programs on the portal so far.
SBI, the Canara Bank, the Union Bank, the IDBI Bank and the Bank of India have already integrated their systems with the portal.
The website offers loan program information, education loan application forms, a tool to apply for financial aid to multiple banks through a single application form and the ability for banks to access students' submitted applications.
"Vidya Lakshmi Portal is the first-of-its-kind portal providing a single window for students to access information and make applications for educational loans provided by banks as well as government scholarships," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
Banks can inform students about their loan application processing status through the portal while students get access to an email functionality through which they can send any loan-related grievances or queries. The portal also raises awareness of government scholarships by way of linking to the National Scholarship Portal.
Vidya Lakshmi seeks to help students that want access to higher education to have the financial support necessary to pursue that aspiration. The goal is that "no student misses out on higher education for lack of funds."
"This initiative aims to bring on board all banks providing educational loans. It is expected that students throughout the country will be benefited by the initiative by making available a single window for access to various educational loan schemes of all banks," the release by the Finance Minister said.
India's Finance Minister proposed during his 2015-2016 Budget speech to set up of a fully IT-based student financial aid authority that would manage government scholarships and student loads under Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram (PMVLK)
The portal was developed and is run by the NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Ltd, a project that involves the Department of Financial Services of the Finance Ministry, the Department of Higher Education, the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Indian Banks Association (IBA). The student-friendly portal launched August 15.
The Finance Ministry has told PSBs (government-run banks) that they must meet the 20% growth target in student loans and increase the number of student accounts by 15%.