R.V.Vandana, a student of Sankara Vidyalaya, has been reading a lot of ‘math-fiction' and watching sci-fi movies partly because she is interested in them and partly on account of her preparation for upcoming interviews in Indian Institute of Science and mathematical institutes. “Molecular physics has been my area of interest for long. I would opt for engineering only if it doesn't work out,” she says confidently.

This has been a hectic month for students whose Class XII results were declared recently or are awaiting them. Students like Vandana have also been simultaneously preparing for various entrances and results. And it doesn't stop here. On the threshold of entering a phase which will determine their career trajectories, many students have decided to take paths hitherto considered unconventional. While families are supportive, banks and financial institutions are also offering assistance to help the youngsters realise their dreams.

A student of St. John's International School, Achal Gaurav's fascination with what he calls the “navigation part of marine engineering,' has its roots in his liking for engine rooms and hoarse heavy boilers. “I have applied to ‘Samudra' near Lonavala. The one-year course will end with a year-long voyage and an examination.” The course costs over Rs.10 lakh but Gaurav will face no obstacles financially, as his family will support him.

Environmental science, remote sensing, landscape ecology and conservation genetics are other popular subjects that many want to pursue after Standard XII. “Very few courses integrate ecology with related subjects to form a single discipline. I plan to study wildlife conservation in Dehradun.” says Amudha Sridharan.

Others are waiting for the CBSE results to decide on their future destinations. R. Guna wishes to pursue a career in statistics and plans to go to Kolkata or Mumbai, and Suriya Jayaram, who has been attempting law entrances is eyeing either New Delhi or Bangalore. “While the course matters most, getting exposure to other places also counts,” says Suriya.

And then, there are those like Akshaya Chittybabu of St. Michael's Academy, who are focussing on locations abroad. “Singapore is my preferred location. It is closer to home, and less expensive than U.S. universities. And the study of architecture there is more application- oriented,” she says.

Many of these courses are expensive, making it inevitable for the parents to seek education loans.

“There is a flood of loan offers. I just want the repayment to start after six months to one year of my working,” says Vineetha Joseph, a student of Chennai School in CIT Nagar, who got a Rs.2 lakh education loan from State Bank of India for pursuing a nursing course.

Many banks permit online applications for student loans making it easier for students to apply.

“Students can borrow up to Rs. 4 lakh without providing any security or margin. A loan amount of Rs. 4 lakh to Rs. 7.5 lakh can be availed against a guarantee, while collaterals are needed for amount Rs. 7 lakh and above,” says Selvam Veeraraghavan, General Manager of Indian Bank.

While the scheme of education loan is uniform throughout all banks, officials say that banks are yet not very comfortable lending loans to courses apart from the traditional ones. “Most of the expensive courses, including the management courses offered by business schools are not registered under the All India Council of Technical Education. Hence the rate of interest on loans for such courses is the same as that of personal loans,” says an official of HDFC Bank. Education loans do not have age constraints, but the pre-requisite that the candidate cannot be employed bars many from taking it, he says.

With respect to repayment, bank officials say that most of them try to extend the date of repayment when requested, after which every case is taken up individually. “We are all requesting the government to have a guarantee corporation that can cover these cases. But, since most education loans were taken only a few years back, we don't generally encounter cases of non payment here,” says Mr. Veeraraghavan.

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Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012

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