140,000 students to miss HELB loans

By Elijah Odhiambo

Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) has revealed that 140,000 students in public universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges will miss the state loans.

Charles Ringera, Helb Chief Executive Officer told Parliament on Wednesday that the government loans body received more loan applications than the Ksh4.5 billion presented to the Treasury.

Helb said that the students will have to wait till the Treasury releases Ksh5.7 billion for onward disbursement to them.

“Currently we have 140,000 students in TVETs and universities that we have not been able to fund to the tune of Ksh5.7 billion because we have run out of the budget that we had presented to Treasury of Ksh4.5 billion,” stated HELB Chief Executive Charles Ringera.

According to Ringera, the body ran out of money, making it difficult for them to raise additional funding for tuition, housing, and maintenance.

The 140,000 students are almost double the 75,000 that the agency could not fund during a similar period last year when the Treasury delayed disbursements of Ksh3 billion.

In the academic year 2022/2023, Helb supported only about 40,000 first-year university and 45,000 TVET students bringing the total beneficiaries to 85,000.

Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) placed more about 145,000 students in the last September 2022 intake, meaning almost half either never applied or missed the Helb loan.

The delayed disbursement means that the students, most of who are first-years will have to find alternative means of paying for their tuition, accommodation and upkeep as they await government funding.

Mr. Ringera noted a request to plug the current financing deficit through a supplementary budget was declined.

In the current financial year, the agency was allocated Ksh14.8 billion to finance students based on their economic backgrounds.

How the loan works

A successful loan applicant receives between Ksh35,000 and Ksh60,000 per year.

Of the total loan disbursed, Ksh8,000 is sent directly to the university as tuition fees and the balance to the beneficiary’s bank account in two equal tranches covering the first and second semesters.

Helb has over the years struggled to meet the rising demand for loans.

The number of government-sponsored students in public universities has grown at the fastest rate in five years.

The number of candidates who passed the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam in 2022 with the required grade for admittance to a university increased by 19 percent to 173,345 from the 145,776 recorded the previous year.

Nearly all students who earned a C+ or higher over the previous five years were accepted into the regular university programs, making them eligible for Helb loans.

Loan defaulters have weakened Helb’s ability to support the university and technical college students, prompting allocation cuts and increased reliance on the Treasury.

Government lacks money

The government rejected funding proposals totaling Ksh41.6 billion from Public universities and the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) in the wake of a fee-hike proposal that, if implemented, would result in tuition costs more than doubling.

This resulted in a Ksh41.6 billion deficit for the 39 public institutions, forcing them to cut costs by doing away with various expenses like dropping particular courses, which will then result in staff layoffs.

The universities only received Ksh9.65 billion from the National Treasury, which is less than half of what the institutions requested.

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) did not get Ksh2.5 billion out of the Ksh9 billion that it required.

The Technical University of Kenya had a deficit of Ksh2.2 billion, Egerton University (Ksh1.8 billion), Kaimosi University (Ksh1.36 billion), and Karatina University (Ksh1.35 billion).

Nearly all the colleges did not have their wishes met, except for Co-operative University and Garissa University


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