The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) funding university students has been reduced from 45,000 shillings to 37, 000 shillings. According to HELB CEO, Charles Ringera said that they had reduced the loans from Ksh 45,000 shillings to Ksh 37,000 shillings due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Helb Chief Executive Officer Charles Ringera said the decision to reduce the loan funding was a result of the Covid-19 crisis that had slowed down loan recoveries as most Kenyans lost jobs.
“Covid-19 has negatively impacted household incomes. Ordinarily, 80 percent of students admitted to universities would apply for HELB support but this year out of the 122,000 students placed in universities, the applications now stand at 155,000.”
This indicates that the number of parents who would not necessarily have intended their children to borrow has now applied to get a loan due to loss of income,” Ringera said.
He also warned students who are in the second semester of their academic years and fourth-year students that they may miss out on loans despite making an application.
According to him, the money had been used for other social needs. The CEO regretted making the decision, adding that needy students would be most affected.
The decision to slash HELB loans comes at a time when the government wants to triple university fees.
Treasury PS Julius Muia yesterday told MPs that they were ready to pitch the case for universities financing plans by submitting a Cabinet Paper that contains fees hikes as early as next month.
University Education PS Simon Nabukwesi supported the fees increase and enumerated the reforms plan for the higher education sector
The development will now kick-start the drive to hike fees, which vice-chancellors said will cure many financial problems that the institutions presently face.
Presently, all government-sponsored students are funded at a flat rate of Sh120,000 per year based on a formula developed in 1989. Of this, 86,000 shillings are tuition fees while 34,000 shillings cater to students’ personal expenses, including accommodation, food, and books.
Senior Treasury and Education officials proposed that university fees be increased from Ksh 16,000 shillings to 48,000 shillings. The National Assembly Committee on Education is leaning towards adopting the proposal.
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