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Financial Technology Firm Offering Student Loans Adds First International University To List



IE University of Madrid, Spain. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Bukas, a local fintech company offering student loans, will partner with IE University in Madrid, Spain, in December. The private educational institution is the first international school on the Bukas list.

“With this partnership, we will now be able to offer Filipinos the opportunity to study abroad,” said Jon Robert F. Emlano, National Director of Bukas.

Bukas, which offers tuition payment plans for Filipino students, has seen the number of applications increase almost nine times in the two years since its inception in 2019.

“This year, we already have more than 13,000 [student loan] requests to date, and we expect more to arrive before the end of the year, ”Mr. Emlano said in an email to Business world. This is an increase from approximately 1,500 requests in 2019 and 5,000 in 2020.

The startup has also more than doubled its student coverage – or the total number of students its partner schools have at the tertiary and university levels – to nearly 300,000, from 120,000 at the start of the year.

The idea behind Bukas, which was registered as a company in 2019 as Bukas Finance Corp., was to democratize education in the Philippines.

“We chose education funding because we believe affordability is a first-principles approach to improving the education sector in the Philippines. We want more students not to have to stop studying for financial reasons, ”said Mr. Emlano.

Bukas has a mobile application which allows students to submit loan applications, monitor payment deadlines, and pay off outstanding loans. His first student borrower was an engineering student from Mapua University who had his account activated in May 2019.

He has since helped students enrolled in 35 partner institutions, including the University of the Far East, the University of Asia and the Pacific, the SoFA Design Institute, the University of Bohol, the University of the Visayas, the Malaysian Colleges in Mindanao and Eskwelabs.

There are no minimum educational or year requirements to apply for a tuition payment plan. The minimum requirements for the application are as follows:

  • Must be a Filipino citizen and be at least 18 years old
  • Must provide school ID or government issued ID
  • Must be enrolled or is enrolling in one of Bukas partner schools with proof of enrollment
  • Must have a guarantor who is at least 21 years old and has proof of income

Students who work can be self-guarantors.

Bukas pays the full amount of the tuition fee directly to the student’s enrolled school as soon as a request is confirmed. Students can reapply for additional tuition coverage each semester.

According to the Ministry of Education, Kindergarten to Grade 12 enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year fell 14%, which equates to 3.8 million students, to 23.2 million. The total number of private school enrollments also plunged 60%, reflecting an exodus to public schools as parents’ finances were hit during this pandemic.

Only 10.1% of Filipinos had a university degree in 2010, by a population and housing census from the Philippine Statistics Authority. – Patricia B. Mirasol