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  For what type of courses can educational loans be taken?
 Answer
Educational loans can be taken to pursue a wide variety of courses, for example: · School/graduation courses, like High School, B.Sc., B.Com., B.A., etc. · Post-graduate/specialized courses, like B.Sc., M.Sc., B.A., M.A., B.Com., M.Com., etc. · Professional courses, like M.B.A., M.C.A., B.E., M.E., B.Tech., M.B.B.S., etc. · Other courses, like computer courses, fashion designing, commercial pilot training, etc. Keep in mind, however, that, usually, the courses financed should be for durations of more than a year, i.e., 12 months.

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  What are the costs covered under educational loans?
 Answer
Educational loans usually cover the costs of tuition fees, hostel fees, mess fee and examination fees. Some banks may also finance the cost of books, equipments and other instruments required by the student for that course. For studies abroad, banks may provide one-way air fare. But this needs to be checked with your individual bank.

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  Who is eligible for an educational loan?
 Answer
There are many criteria that determine the eligibility of a student for an educational loan. These vary greatly from bank to bank. The most important criterion is that the student must have qualified for, or have a confirmed admission in a college or institute. The other factors that are normally important with nationalized banks are the age band, i.e. the student applying for the loan must be in the age group of 16-26 or some such specified range. Other criteria are good academic record (first class throughout, with no gaps or breaks in education, etc.), and a regular source of income for the parents. The recognition granted to the institution the student has opted for is also an important criterion.

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  What is the maximum amount that can be availed under educational loans? / How is the maximum loan amount calculated?
 Answer
The maximum loan amount varies from bank to bank, but, most importantly, it depends on the course for which the loan is sought and the institution chosen. For example, the loan amount for an M.B.A. course would be different for different institutes--the fees at I.I.M.'s would be approximately Rs 2 Lac, whereas at Somaiya it would be Rs 80,000. Hence the loan amount will vary drastically. But many banks have a margin criterion, which means that they would provide up to 75 per cent or 90 per cent of the total cost of the course, while the balance has to be paid by the applicant. The loan amount can also depend on the borrower's parents/guardians net monthly salary. The loan amount could also be calculated as being six or 10 times the monthly salary of the parent. Ultimately, however, the loan amount would depend on the discretion of the bank.

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  What security does one needs to provide for the loan?
 Answer
The security depends on the loan amount. It is quite possible that banks may not require security for a loan of up to Rs 25,000, but would require it for amounts greater than that. These limits are usually in slabs that vary with banks. The usual security that the banks generally take are National Savings Certificates (NSCs), bonds, gold, vehicle, house or property, etc. In addition to these, some banks might also require the applicant to have a life insurance policy equivalent to, or greater than, the loan amount.

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  What are the documents required for an educational loan?
 Answer
The general documentation required by the banks for disbursing education loans is usually very simple. The most important among them is proof from the college/institute that the student has a confirmed admission there. Then comes an agreement with the students or the parents/guardians, and proof of residence. Proof of age is also important, considering that quite a few banks have a clause that they would not finance a student above a certain age limit. Also required are documents to prove that the parents/guardians have a regular source of income, namely, salary statements, IT returns, etc. And, lastly, a resume of the student, clearly showing his past academic performances.
  

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  What are the interest rates for educational loans and how are they calculated?
 Answer
The interest rates vary significantly from bank to bank. It is usually determined on certain slabs. For instance, for loans up to Rs. 25,000, the rate of interest would be 12 per cent, for Rs 25,001 to Rs 2 lakhs, 14 per cent, and for loans greater than Rs 2 lakhs, it would be 16 per cent. The interest rates could be fixed or variable. A fixed interest rate means that the rate of interest for the entire tenure of the loan would remain the same, whereas a variable interest rate, which depends on the Prime Lending Rate (PLR) set by the Reserve Bank of India, keeps changing half-yearly or yearly. Usually, nationalized banks follow variable interest rates, while private and foreign banks follow fixed interest rates. It is advisable to opt for variable interest rates because it has been seen, over the years, that the PLR has been dropping, and hence the interest rates applicable on the loan amount would drop correspondingly. The interest on the educational loan taken by a student starts immediately after the day of disbursal. The interest is payable on a quarterly reducing basis, calculated on a simple interest basis. But once the repayment of the actual principal starts, the interest is calculated on a compounded basis.

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  What is a holiday period?
 Answer
A holiday period is the maximum time given to the student before he/she needs to start paying back the principal loan in Equated Monthly Installments (EMIs). In other words, it is the period between the student's final examination in the course for which the loan was availed and when he/she actually starts paying the EMIs. Typically, holiday periods range from six to 12 months. Take note, however, that if the student starts working immediately after completing the course, he does not enjoy a holiday period. Repayment usually starts six months after the course completion or the commencement of a job, whichever is earlier.

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  How is the disbursement made?
 Answer
Disbursement of the educational loan is made directly to the institute/college to which the student has applied for admission. In the case of mess and hostel charges, the relevant amounts are given to the concerned authorities. In the case of air fare, which is also available for studies overseas, the amount is given directly to the airlines. Some banks do give the students themselves a certain amount on a monthly or quarterly basis for purchasing books, equipments and other related material associated with the course. This, again, depends on the discretion of the bank.

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  Why do banks require an insurance policy?
 Answer
When the loan amount is greater than a lakh, banks usually prefer students to have Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) policies equivalent to, or more than, the loan amount. This is nothing more than a security feature that also forms a part of your collateral. In case the student is not able to pay back the loan, the bank does not lose money on it and can recover the outstanding amount from the student's LIC policy.

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