A number of prospective IIT students have written to HRD minister Prakash Java dekar and the prime minister’s office regarding the non-availability of the promised interest-free loans meant for offsetting the steep fee hike ordered in April.
The HRD ministry, which was then under Smriti Irani, had approved a proposal for increasing IIT fees from Rs.90,000 to Rs. 2 lakh. Soon afterwards, it issued a press release stating that tuition fees will be waived for all students belonging to the scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and differentlyabled categories, besides those from families with an annual income of less than Rs. 1 lakh.
Apart from this, it stated that students from families with an annual income of less than Rs. 5 lakh would benefit from a waiver of two-thirds of the tuition fee amount.
It also said everybody—regardless of caste or class—would have access to interest-free loans under the Vidya Lakshmi Scheme for the total amount. However, when students seeking admission to the prestigious institutes enquired about the interest-free loans, they were told that the offer was not available to those with a family income of over Rs. 5 lakh per annum. This distressed a number of students from middle-class families.
The HRD ministry is now flooded with letters and emails about the fee hike likely to be imposed on students recently enrolled in the IITs as well as those planning to seek admission in the future. General category students — who are the worst hit — have asked the ministry to provide them with the promised interest-free loans as well. Sources said even the IIT Kharagpur administration has written to the ministry, asking it to issue a clarification regarding the fee structure.
It was learnt that the ministry now plans to earmark special funds to the tune of Rs. 150 crore, which will take care of loan interest concerns. However, the move is yet to be approved.
The Opposition had raised the issue too, but backtracked after the HRD ministry said there was a provision for interest-free student loans. The ministry also pointed out that the government spends an average of Rs. 6 lakh on each IIT student per year. The National Institutes of Technology (NIT) also raised its fee from Rs. 70,000 to Rs. 1.25 lakh recently, but they did not include the interest-free loan component in the order.