The Ministry of Education and the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) have petitioned to have loan limits for students increased by up to five times.
University Education and Research Principal Secretary Simon Nabukwesi, and the HELB CEO Charles Ringera have filed a petition before parliament seeking to have the annual loan limit for each student increased to KSh 200,000.
In their petition, Nabukwesi and Ringera argued that currently, students receive KSh 37,000 annually which according to them is too little to pay school fees and cater for their upkeep.
Nabukwesi further noted that HELB is underfunded and thus unable to properly fund students.
“Due to low funding, many students missed this year’s loans. Helb is currently giving the students an average rate of Ksh37,000, which is not enough. We need more funding to enable Helb to raise the loan allocation to KSh 200,000 per student annually,” he said.
Ringera revealed that, for the financial year 2020/2021, Helb plans to finance 74,438 out of the total 128,073 first-year students that were placed by Kenya Universities and Central Placement Services (Kuccps). This leaves out 53,635 students.
He told parliament that the funding was in line with the budget allocated to the board for the said fiscal year. He urged lawmakers to consider increasing funds, to enable them to fund all students.
“HELB understands the need to give funds to all the students who applied for the loans and has requested for an additional Ksh4.9 billion to cover the deficit,” Ringera said.
Nabukwesi and Ringera had appeared before parliament two weeks ago to answer why students who had joined university recently are yet to receive their Helb loans.
Homa Bay Town Member of Parliament Peter Kaluma questioned why University of Nairobi students did not receive their Helb loans before reporting to school.
Ringera explained that Helb invited loan applications for first-time applicants on July 19, 2021, however, the students could not apply immediately because they were yet to be placed and that the placement results were released a month later on August 17, 2021.
The HELB boss added that universities began admissions a week after placement, which implies that students did not get enough time to apply for Helb loans.
“Specifically, the University of Nairobi first-year students were called to report on August 30, a week after placement and receiving the admission letters,” he said.
Ringera explained that as of October 7, Helb had received and processed a total of 13,091 loan application requests and awarded loans worth KSh 588 million.
Ringera also explained that the payment for the second semester will be released as and when institutions commence their second-semester dates.
Nabukwesi said HELB is processing and paying loan requests as the applications are being submitted and guided by the semester commencement dates.
“Loan applications are still ongoing and processing is being done as the forms are submitted. Funds are released to students at least two weeks before the commencement of the semester as furnished by various institutions of higher learning,” he said.