Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced the launch of a credit card for students with a limit of Rs 10 lakh today, meeting one of her key pre-election promises. A student -- aged upto 40 -- who has lived in Bengal for 10 years will be eligible for the card, which can be used to get a loan for higher studies in India or abroad. "No guarantor is needed for this loan. The state will stand guarantee," Ms Banerjee said at an online press conference, calling it a "unique scheme".
Loan will be available for undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral and post-doctoral study in India or abroad, Ms Banerjee told reporters. It could also be available for students studying in coaching classes for competitive exams.
The loan can be taken for course fee, tuitions, hostel fee, books, study materials, computers or laptops, the Chief Minister said.
The loan can be taken from any bank -- government-run or private -- or even cooperative organisations.
Any student taking a Rs 10 lakh loan on the card will have 15 years to repay it.
"Students can apply online for this loan, it can even be in the middle of a course. After this, parents will not have to worry about the education of their children. Students need not be under pressure and run from pillar to post for an education loan," the Chief Minister said. "I hope that in the coming days, this loan will help the students fulfil their dreams. I'd ask my student friends to forget worrying about money and focus on their studies," she added.
The Bengal government is among the first to offer a student credit card. Bihar is in the process of organising it.
Currently, credit cards for students are only offered by some private banks, including ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank.
The State Bank of India also offers a secured card against a fixed deposit of Rs 5000.
Most cards offered by banks have a nominal joining or annual fee and they come with a number of rewards including fuel surcharge waiver, cash-back in departmental stores, points on online transactions and even extra points for money spent on the card holder's birthday month.