The development is a new feature of the Strategic Transformation of End-users Experience Portal (STEEP), which has been enabled by the entity’s redesigned website.
Deputy executive director at the SLB, Charmaine Rose Anderson, said that the customer portal allows the SLB to process the loans of applicants electronically, eliminating the need for persons to physically visit the office.
“The vision for the SLB is one where we have a self-service portal where customers can go online, transact their business, apply for their loan, submit their communication requests to the SLB without having to visit our location,” Rose Anderson said.
“Our customers, which include our students and guarantors, can submit their application and guarantor information all on the same portal. If I am guaranteeing a loan for you, I do not need to give you my personal information. I should just go on and submit all of that information as a guarantor without getting the student into my personal space,” she noted, adding that persons will also be able to track their applications.
Among the features of the portal is that it allows for the SLB to connect with third parties to confirm the accuracy of the information being submitted by the applicant, such as obtaining evidence of the student’s acceptance and registration from universities.
Rose Anderson said that the entity is connected to Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), which enables immediate validation of the Tax Registration Number (TRN), to reduce errors in the applications process.
“Once the TRN is entered into the system and an error is noted, the applicant will receive a message advising that the TRN is invalid,” she pointed out.
She said that the portal also connects to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) system, enabling persons who benefit from PATH to immediately receive a 35 per cent reduction on the loan application processing fee.
“Students don’t have to walk with their card to prove that they are PATH beneficiaries. When submitting the application and you indicate that you are a PATH beneficiary… the system will go and check,” she pointed out.
The portal also connects with the credit bureaus in Jamaica. This feature is applicable for persons who are paying for their loan while they study.
“We need to know your credit worthiness or credit score for the loan that we are granting, and this is also the same for the guarantor,” Rose Anderson said.
The SLB’s deputy executive director noted that a benefit of the portal is that it facilitates real-time automated validation of the loan application process, so persons will know immediately if they have made errors.
“These checks are done instantaneously. Customers will not be applying and walking away thinking that everything is okay. Every step of the way, we are doing automated validation behind the scenes, so customers know upfront that the information they have entered is correct or incorrect, and corrections are made before the application can be completed,” she said.
Effective June 1, applications opened on the SLB website for loans for the upcoming academic year.