Akash Rai Sinha, a young student in Lucknow, UP, has accomplished a great deal in his few years. He has scored exceptionally well in his SAT exams -- a commendable 1990, performed exceedingly well through out high school, gotten admission to Drexel University in the United States, and most importantly, been offered a 99% scholarship to the university.
Source: Akash Sinha
Drexel is one of the most prestigious universities in America. It has been ranked in the top 100 of America's best colleges for seven straight years. It is ranked 10th among national universities in the US news list of "Up-and-Comers", which features those schools most often cited by university administrators nationwide as making "the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, student life, campus, or facilities." Drexel has been in the top 10, each of the six years that this list has been published.
The university also houses one of the finest engineering departments in the world, to which Akash Sinha was admitted. He was offered a place at the coveted BS+MS Accelerated Programme, for which the academic requirements are tougher than any course in the university. Drexel also invited Akash to apply for the Honors programme, a great opportunity, which only a very small percentage of freshmen get.
Then again, only a very small percentage of students around the world are admitted to such a prestigious university, at such a competitive course, with a full scholarship. Sinha is one of the very few people who was offered this opportunity.
So, what is the problem?
Akash Rai Sinha comes from a middle class family in Lucknow and doesn't have the funds required to pay for this course. Before his application was processed, he informed the university of his predicament. They were not perturbed, his application went through, and he was offered a full scholarship. Drexel University has gone above and beyond in order to have Akash Sinha as a student at their college.
The scholarship waives off approximately Rs 1 crore, which is just the tuition fees. The Sinhas will still have to pay for accommodation, books, and other expenses - this approximates to Rs 40 lakhs.
In order to do this, Akash decided to take an education loan and offered his home as collateral. His home, which is located in a posh area of Lucknow, is valued at approximately Rs 80 lakh, double the sum required.
Akash and his mother went to a number of banks, including State Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and UCO Bank. Not a single one of these banks was willing to be accommodate the student's requirement.
They brushed him off and ignored his request. At one of the banks he visited, the loan manager had misplaced his file. The apathy showed was nothing short of repulsive. Here is a boy, who has been granted such a rare and tremendous opportunity, but he will not be able to accomplish it because of the ignorance of Indian Banks.
Akash Sinha was told that his house may not be used as collateral because it was not approved by the Lucknow Development Board (LDA).
However, he insisted that the loan process should go through, much to the dismay of the loan officer. According to RBI guidelines, it is the prerogative of the borrower to chose when to start paying interest. He can do so immediately or after the moratorium period (the length of his course + six months).
Akash informed the banks he would not be able to pay the interest of Rs 45,000 during the period of his course.
Banking on banks
At his next visit to the bank, Akash was told he had to pay the interest during the moratorium period or the loan would not be issued. After much persuasion, his father agreed to make payments while he was studying.
However, the very next day Akash's hopes came crashing down. The bank informed him they would only be offering him a loan of Rs 30 lakh, however, he would still have to pay the interest as was decided during the last meeting.
Source: Askhay Sinha
This came as a major setback for him and his family. The remaining Rs 10 lakh will be a massive burden for him.
But Akash is not one to give up. "Obviously it will be a great burden for me, but I am trying to manage somehow," Akash told ScoopWhoop.
His parents are afraid that they will not be able to afford the exorbitant fees. " Even after manipulating all the available funds and options it would be impossible to fund my son's education without a loan of at least Rs. 35,00,000. This is an opportunity that no one would like to miss especially if the cause is the unavailability of funds. My son had had even his application fee waived. When you put the cooperation foreign institutes offer against the efforts of Indian banks, it is absolutely disheartening to see how poorly the Indian banks lose," Akash's mother Sunita Sinha told us.
The Sinhas are putting everything they have to help their son achieve his dream. Seeing him come so close to it and yet remain so far, cannot be easy for them.
Our government has promised us great things, including equal opportunity. Yet the loan policies that are instilled are anything but equal.
Akash Sinha, like many other Indians, aspires greatness. And like other Indians, his future lies in the hands of someone else. Someone who probably has no idea what a prestigious college Drexel is, and that less than 1% of students are offered full scholarships.
India needs to formulate a policy whereby students who have excelled through school and have been offered a place at one of the top colleges in the world, have some sort of support from their country.
Our prime minister has bolstered himself as the messiah of the middle class. He has promised to send them to the stars. But he seems to have missed one little detail, that they will have to pay for the trip themselves.