Welcome to October!
Financial Information Month in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) starts today. October 2016 marks the 14th year of this annual public education program coordinated by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). The goal of Financial Information Month, as stated on the ECCB website, is “to promote awareness and understanding of general financial and economic issues, and support the aim of “a financially developed and vibrant ECCU region that fosters strong and sustainable economic growth and the improved well-being of the citizenry.”
This year’s theme is “Create, Optimise, Pursue, Embrace; Opportunities” and I will be taking the opportunity to:
- Raise awareness about the issues Caribbean Student Loan Borrowers face;
- Foster conversations about the experiences of Caribbean Student Loan borrowers; and
- Address 10+ years of missed opportunities to improve the Student Loan Scheme in the ECCU.
What is the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union?
The Eastern Caribbean Currency Union is a group of states in the Eastern Caribbean that share the same currency: the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD). The countries that share the Eastern Caribbean Dollar Currency and make up w the ECCU are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. These countries are also part of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS.)
The Eastern Caribbean Dollar is issued by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.
What is the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank?
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank was established in 1983, oversees the banking system within the OECS and is responsible for maintaining the stability of the Eastern Caribbean Dollar.
Although the ECCB is the Monetary Authority for the ECCU and provides oversight of the union’s banking system, its authority does not extend to, what are called “non-banks” like Development Banks throughout the region, which are the banks that issue most of the Student Loans in the Caribbean.
Another thing is, the ECCB’s financial education and awareness programs do not specifically address student loans in the Currency Union nor the common issues faced by borrowers when navigating these loosely regulated student loan lenders. In fact, even the most recent Banking Act makes no mention of consumer protection nor banks’ or non-banks’ legal obligations to their customers. That’s why We Need Student Loan Answers in the Caribbean and this Student Loan Series.
Financial Information Month 2016:
Caribbean Student Loan Series
This month’s Student Loan Series is all about fostering a Regional and Diasporic Discussion about Caribbean Student Loans, raising awareness about the widespread issues with bridge work towards addressing the gap of information about Caribbean student loans.
If you’ve read my story, know that I had a Caribbean student loan from the local Development Bank in St. Kitts and Nevis, and experienced many challenges communicating with my lender and understanding how my student loan worked. After 8 years of making payments on my student loan from that lender, I found out that all of my first year of payments went to interest only.
Those payments added up to $4,000, not a penny of which went to my loan’s principal balance. Even worse, the lack of information I had about how my student loan worked is a far too common experience for Caribbean student loan borrowers who live in the U.S. like me, Canada or within the Caribbean region. This Student Loan Series aims to take the first steps towards changing that.
Share Your Caribbean Student Loan Story
If you have a student loan from the Caribbean Bank, especially from an Eastern Caribbean Bank, join the conversation by sharing your own experience with your Caribbean Student Loan.
Whether you are living in the Caribbean or the North American Diaspora in Canada, the U.S.A. or beyond, I would love to feature your story. Your can submit your story all throughout out the Month of October 2016. Just click the below to join the conversation!
Submit Your Story