The Malta Development Bank’s student loan schemes, the FSMA and its successor the FSMA+, have been a veritable success among Maltese young people and senior alumni with some 430 students accessing in excess of €15 million to continue with their education.
Access to such soft loans has allowed Maltese students to take up courses not only in traditional fields but also in innovative ones, such as sports management, health management and data intelligence, educational inclusivity, environmental economics and climate change as well as advanced courses in special education.
The Further Studies Made Affordable plus (FSMA+) scheme is a financial instrument implemented by the MDB through EU funds from Malta’s European Social Fund Operational Programme. It helps students access highly favourable financial terms to cover expenses related to tuition fees, as well as accommodation, living and travelling expenses when such courses are followed abroad.
The scheme, which is intermediated by Bank of Valletta through the BOV Studies Plus+, had originally been launched in 2019. The first scheme generated over €9 million in new study loans. With the available funds being quickly taken up, a second, larger scheme was set up which made available an additional loan portfolio of up to €15 million.
Besides offering a significantly reduced interest rate, the scheme offers a moratorium on both capital repayments and interest for the period of study plus 12 months. Hence, the student is not required to make any payments during the period of study and will also have an additional year to seek employment.
No additional fees and processing fees are charged and no collateral, life insurance and up-front contribution are requested. It is a scheme designed to fit the requirements of students at a stage in life where they lack financial resources and require peace of mind during their studies, without the anxiety of having to cope with loan repayments. The interest on the loan during the moratorium period is fully subsidised thanks to EU funds made available by the Managing Authority through its implementing partner the MDB.
The FSMA scheme was recently identified as one of the three best case studies of blended schemes in the EU by Fi-Compass, a platform for advisory services on financial instruments under EU shared management.
Prof Josef Bonnici, Chairman of the MDB, welcomed this update: “It is very positive to see hundreds of students taking up this scheme to continue with their studies corresponding to their desired career path. It is also very encouraging to note that many are opting to take up fields of study which reflect the emerging economic trends, thereby contributing to enhance the human resource base which is necessary for the country to grasp the opportunities of the new digital and green economy”.
MDB CEO, Mr. Paul V. Azzopardi added: “Although local educational institutions offer an increasingly varied array of study choices, students seeking specialisations in innovative niches often need to travel abroad for their studies. This entails a significant economic outlay. With this scheme anyone can follow studies irrespective of family resources. We are very proud to assist in students’ career development through this advantageous scheme and we encourage more students to contact us, or Bank of Valletta, to discover more about this opportunity”.