Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list

Mexico: New national student loan programme announced

The campus of one of Mexico’s most prestigious private higher education institutions, the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey, was the site of a major higher education policy announcement in Mexico in early January. The country’s president, Felipe Calderón, unveiled the new National Programme for Financing Higher Education (Programa Nacional de Financiamiento a la Educación Superior) to great fanfare, but also to some sharp criticism.

The new student loan programme is to be funded by the government to the tune of MXN 2.5 billion (EUR 149 million). In its first year, and with the support of five banks, it is forecast to provide credits to a total of 23 000 students enrolled in 21 private universities in Mexico. At the undergraduate level, loans of up to MXN 215 000 (EUR 12 800) will be available. Students at the graduate level will be eligible for credits of MXN 280 000 (16 700). In both cases, a fixed interest rate of 10% will apply, as will a repayment period of 15 years and a ‘grace period’ of six months with no payments required immediately after completing studies.

While in principle it is difficult to argue with the introduction of new financial mechanisms that facilitate access to higher education among students who might otherwise have the means, the new Mexican loan scheme has not been universally lauded. An editorial in the Chronicle of Higher Education, for example, touches on many of the concerns expressed in other quarters about the decision to introduce loans in Mexico, including: 

  • the channelling of resources away from the greatly overburdened public higher education sector in Mexico which already serves 70% of the country’s students; 
  • the worrisome prospects for repayment of student debt in a country with already high levels of unemployment among young people; 
  • the relatively high 10% interest rate for loan repayment; and 
  • the possible repetition in Mexico of some of the negative results of longstanding student loan programmes in countries such as the United States and Chile.

One Mexican newspaper characterised some of the expert responses to the new scheme as “… positive but insufficient”. Still, for anyone interested in tracking student funding and financing developments around the world, this new Mexican initiative is definitely one to watch.

Presidencia de la República (in Spanish) Chronicle of Higher Education