‘Click on Vidya Lakshmi for student loans’

NSDL e-Governance (e-Gov) Infrastructure Limited, under the guidance of the Finance Ministry has launched a portal — Vidya Lakshmi — for the benefit of students. Vidya Lakshmi facilitates easy loans for students. They can look for education loan schemes and apply to multiple banks for loan through the portal. In an interview with BusinessLine, Gagan Rai, Managing Director and CEO of NSDL e-Governance, explains the importance of the portal.

How should a student apply for education loan through Vidya Lakshmi portal?

Vidya Lakshmi is an education loan portal. From February 1, the Centre has mandated that all students apply for education loan only through this portal. Those who are aspiring to study in India and abroad can apply for this loan. This portal is available only in English.

To apply, the student or the parent has to first register and then fill up the common education loan application form (CELAF). One can apply to any three banks of their choice by filling just one form. All the details about the education schemes of banks registered with NSDL e-Gov are available. The registered user can compare and make an informed decision from the comfort of home or work. Once the students apply, the banks will be able to download the application. After processing the application, the banks will update the status of the loan on the portal.

How will students benefit from the portal?

The Vidya Lakshmi portal brings transparency and efficiency in the education loan process. NSDL e-Gov consolidates the status of the loan application with all the banks and informs the Centre about the same. So far, 3.90 lakh legacy loan applications have been successfully uploaded on the portal.

Once the banks know that a student has applied, they will compete to give him/her the loan since they don’t want to lose a customer. Also, even if one bank rejects the loan application for some reason, there is still the probability of the other two banks offering the same.

A total of 40 banks have registered with this portal. NBFCs have not been included yet.

How is the loan disbursed?

The application and processing of the application has been digitised, but one has to personally go to the respective banks to sign the documents. This portal is only to facilitate the loan application process. Once all the formalities are completed, the loan will be disbursed to the bank account or paid to the institution directly.

Can you explain about the Vidyasaarathi portal?

While Vidya Lakshmi is an education loan portal, Vidyasaarathi deals with scholarship. It works like this. The Companies Act says that companies have to spend 2 per cent of their profit on CSR activities (corporate social responsibility) and one of the activities that some of the companies undertake is education by way of scholarships.

Now, several corporates are offering scholarships, but they don’t know how to find the right students. Vidyasaarathi is one such portal where NSDL e-Governance matches the corporates to the eligible students.

Corporates have a right to define the criteria for awarding scholarships. For example, some corporates can cite parents’ annual income less than ₹2 lakh as a criterion. Some may award scholarships only to girl students.

Corporates will thus list their eligibility criteria for the scholarship schemes and those eligible are allowed to apply. However, students can apply for only one scholarship. If awarded, this scholarship will go directly to the student’s bank account.

So far, 10 companies have enrolled with Vidyasaarathi and about 28,000 students from both schools and colleges have registered for the scholarships.

Since CSR activities are funded from the profits of companies, the scholarships are on a yearly basis.

What are the security features of the portals?

For all our products, we have end-to-end encryption while sending messages. So whatever data that comes and goes through the portal is completely encrypted. So the data is absolutely safe.

What are your future plans?

As of now, we want the portals to be monitored and improved. We look forward to feedback from users. As Vidyasaarathi was launched recently, my target, by the year-end, is to bring 50 companies on board for disbursement of scholarships.

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