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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Student-loan guarantor gets reprieve


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Fund agrees to delay the auction of teacher’s house and land plots.


THE STUDENT Loan Fund (SLF) has agreed to suspend the auction of a teacher’s house and land plots, taking into account the fact that she had fallen into legal trouble because she wanted to help her students.

Vipa Banyen, now 47, had signed in as a guarantor for 60 students so that they could get loans for their study between 1998 and 1999.

Each student took out a loan of a little over Bt10,000. But then about 23 of them defaulted. Now they have an accumulated debt of over Bt1 million owed to the SLF due to interest charges and fines. Only two of them have so far come forward for debt negotiations.

As many of the former students had not repaid their loans, the SLF took legal action against Vipa as their guarantor.

“The house and land plots are an inheritance from my late parents,” Vipa lamented. “Had I known that I would face such foreclosure, I would not have signed on as a guarantor.”

Poramate Sang-iam, the director of SLF legal execution, said the suspension was issued to ease Vipa’s grievance but that did not mean she would be able to avoid legal liability if her students refused to repay in the end.

“We will be urgently pushing the debtors to repay. We should be able to track them down,” he said. “But if they refuse to pay and are unable to pay, Vipa will still have to shoulder the debt burden.”

He was speaking after a meeting with Vipa, who had requested help to resolve her predicament.

Now a school executive, Vipa said she first found out in 2008 that many of the students had not repaid the SLF loan.

“Since then, I have gone to court often because of their cases,” she said.

She had tried directly contacting some students to ask them to repay their debts, but they simply said they did not have the money to do so.

“Their parents have also said they do not have any money or assets,” Vipa said.

Vipa has just two assets – her house and the land plot. Both have already been foreclosed. The SLF has agreed to suspend the auction of these assets for now.

Vipa could fall into even deeper trouble if her former students continue to avoid repaying their debt. The court has already issued verdicts in some of the cases.

If Vipa was sued for other students defaulting, she could end up facing a bankruptcy lawsuit. If declared bankrupt, Vipa would be disqualified from working as a civil servant and would lose her job.

SLF manager Chainarong Kajchapanand said of the 21 default cases, Vipa had already paid off a part of the debt she had to shoulder as the guarantor in four cases.

“In 17 other cases, the principal amount is about Bt190,000. So, definitely she will not go bankrupt,” he said.

He added the SLF would try to help Vipa by pressing former students to repay.


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