Students could earn interest on loans

first_imgDeflation means that students may be given rebates on student loans unless interest rate calculations are changed.Interest on student loans is calculated with reference to the Retail Prices Index (RPI), which in March showed inflation to have dropped to -0.4%. It is the first time Britain has experienced deflation since 1960.Interest is calculated in March but applied in September, meaning that current economic changes would not impact on loans until later this year. The fall in inflation effectively means that students would start to earn interest on their loans, rather than pay it, and could result in rebates for some graduates.However, this will only be the case if the way that interest is calculated is not changed.A spokeswoman for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, which is in charge of policy making for the Student Loans Company, said that they are in discussions with the Treasury and will ‘consider the options available’.She added that the department hopes to ‘make an announcement shortly’. The DIUS has indicated that the situation will have been clarified well in advance of the annual change to interest rates in September.Interest on ‘mortgage-style’ fixed rate loans taken out before 1998 must track RPI rates, even if they go into deflation. Post-1998 rates, in contrast, are based on the annual March RPI or the highest bank base rate, whichever is the smaller, plus 1%.The Student Loans Company has also recently announced a new loan recovery system for outstanding loans.In a news release on its website, the company said that it will be contacting graduates who have consistently defaulted on loan payments. It threatened that those whose salary exceeds the maximum for deferment will be registered with UK Credit Reference Agencies. The changes only apply to those on post-1998 loans which are tied to RPI.The company emphasised that options are available for those who need to defer or work out a new repayment plan.Before the fall into deflation last month, students had been paying the highest rate of interest on loans since the early nineties, at 4.8% throughout 2007/08. The SLC has said that interest in 2009/10 will not exceed this year’s rate of 3.8%.last_img read more

Cover crops

first_imgTypes of cover crops A soil test from your local, University of Georgia Extension office will accurately determine a cover crop’s need for lime, phosphate and/or potash. If lime, phosphate or potash are needed, apply them in the fall, just prior to preparing the seedbed. Cover crops or green manures, as they are often called, are an economical way to both protect and build the soil. They are also aesthetically pleasing as they provide a nice green color, when most things are drab and brown. When spring arrives, till in the cover crop to help feed the summer garden. If you are growing a legume cover crop, do not add nitrogen fertilizer. Treat the seed with the correct nitrogen-fixing bacteria (known as an inoculant). This inoculant is important to ensure good germination. With fall just around the corner, summer gardens may be looking a little anemic. Many backyard gardeners choose to let their gardens fizzle out slowly, with the first frost putting the final blow to our summer bounty. You may be daydreaming of next year’s spring garden and what you can plant to better your past efforts.Winter cover cropsInstead of letting your summer vegetables die out and leaving the soil exposed, consider planting a winter cover crop. Cover crops are usually a grass or legume, such as clover, planted on the existing garden site to help hold and build the soil. There benefits of growing cover crops include: Reducing erosion. Improving soil structure and reducing surface crusting. Increasing the water-holding capacity of the soil. Reducing winter weed growth. Reducing herbicide injury. Penetrating the hardpan in the winter, which improves soil relations for the next crop. Providing nitrogen, if the cover crop is a legume. The major disadvantage of non-legume cover crops is that they do not fix nitrogen and usually require some nitrogen fertilizer when planted. There are two general types of cover crops – legumes and non-legumes. Legume cover crops, like vetch and clover, add nitrogen to the soil. Non-legume crops, such as wheat and rye, are preferred on erosive soils. It is important to plant cover crops early to establish root growth before cold weather hits. This helps the crop better survive a hard winter. Plant legumes in mid-September to mid-October and plant grasses in early-October to mid-November.Follow soil test recommendations Soil improvement through the use of a cover crop is a long-term investment. Cover crops can and will add organic content to the soil over time. Grass type cover crops should be raked or dragged into a depth of one half inch. Clover type cover crop seed is very tiny and should only be lightly raked to provide good soil contact, but not bury the seed. Non-legume cover crops (rye, ryegrass and wheat) have several advantages. They are less expensive to establish than legume cover crops. They also provide longer and better erosion control because of more winter growth and a fibrous root system. Prepare the seedbed the same way you did for your spring garden. Either remove or till in old crops. Work the soil while it is slightly moist, but not wet. Crimson clover is probably the most commonly used and most desirable of the clovers grown as a cover crop. It matures earlier and produces more nitrogen and dry matter sooner than most other clovers. An excellent crop of crimson clover can produce up to 120 pounds of nitrogen per acre. However, production of 30 to 50 pounds of nitrogen is common.last_img read more

CONCACAF to overhaul ‘archaic’ World Cup qualifying format

first_imgLONDON (AP):World Cup qualifying in North America is set to be overhauled to avoid shutting out the majority of countries in the CONCACAF region so early.CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani has instigated a review of an “archaic” format that leaves only six out of the region’s 35 teams still in with a shot at qualifying for Russia in 2018.Alongside a potential new name to replace the corruption-tainted CONCACAF brand, revamping the qualifying format to be more inclusive has emerged as a key objective for Montagliani after five months in charge of the confederation covering North and Central America and the Caribbean.”Something needs to change because you can’t have 85 percent of your members who are on the outside looking in two years before the World Cup,” Montagliani told The Associated Press. “It doesn’t make sense.”Since qualifying for the 1998 World Cup, CONCACAF has used a system where teams play home and away in early rounds. Once 12 nations are remaining, there are three groups of four, which produces six teams for a final round.The United States, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago are the last teams standing, chasing three of CONCACAF’s automatic qualification places. Starting next month, they play each other twice in a league.”It’s great for those six teams over the next year and a bit, but how about the other ones?” Montagliani said. “It’s hard.”Hard for players to raise their standard and hard for teams to generate revenue to fund soccer development.CLIMBING THE RANKINGS”Caribbean countries have problems climbing the FIFA rankings, just because we are not able to play as many international games as you want to,” John Krishnadath, president of the Suriname soccer federation, told the AP earlier this year, while also highlighting the high cost of travelling to matches.Suriname’s World Cup journey ended in June 2015 immediately after entering in the second round of CONCACAF qualifying. The first seven CONCACAF teams were eliminated back in March 2015. It’s so long ago that Montagliani is the third president CONCACAF has had during qualifying for the 2018 tournament.Former CONCACAF head Jeffrey Webb was first arrested as part of the sprawling American investigation into corruption in May 2015 and his temporary replacement, Alfredo Hawit, was indicted seven months later. Montagliani said CONCACAF competitions and the interests of teams were neglected in an era when the leadership was motivated by corruptly extorting money from the confederation and its commercial backers.Discussing a new configuration, Montagliani said: “Maybe it’s like the Europeans or maybe it’s like the South Americans with a league – or it’s a hybrid of the two.”In Europe, countries are split into nine groups, balanced according to their rankings, and play games from September 2016 to October 2017. The group winners qualify automatically and the eight best runners-up will contest play-offs for the remaining four UEFA spots in Russia.In South America, the 10 CONMEBOL members are in a two-year league that started in October 2015. The top four have guaranteed World Cup places and the fifth-place team has to go through a play-off against a country from Oceania.last_img read more