CONSIDERED INELIGIBLE

Under 18s to get Helb loan in proposed law

Koske proposed that the students access the loans through their parents as signatories

In Summary

•  “This will ensure that university students who have not attained the age of 18 and are yet to get national identification cards are allowed to access Helb loans,” Koske said.

• Koske’s uphill task, though, would be to convince President Uhuru Kenyatta that the amendment would not result to an additional burden to the exchequer.  

Moi University students carried out demonstrations in Eldoret for the second day demanding the release of delayed loans from the Higher Education Loans Board.
CONSIDERED INELIGIBLE: Moi University students carried out demonstrations in Eldoret for the second day demanding the release of delayed loans from the Higher Education Loans Board.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Students below 18 years could soon access Helb loans if a proposal by a lawmaker removing the restriction is approved.

Nominated MP Gideon Koske has proposed amendments to the Higher Education Loans Board Act to provide that students under 18 years access the loans through their parents as signatories.

“The board shall not reject an application for a loan under this Act only on the ground that the student has not attained 18 years,” the bill reads.

The proposed law, due for First Reading this week, provides that a person granted an education loan by Helb shall be required to have his or her parents or guardians as co-signatories.

“This will ensure that university students who have not attained the age of 18 years and who are yet to get national identification cards are allowed to access Helb loans,” Koske said.

He added, “The amendment will thus ensure access to loans of all eligible university students despite their age.” Parents are to ensure validity of the loan agreement.

Koske’s uphill task, though, would be to convince President Uhuru Kenyatta that the amendment would not result to an additional burden to the exchequer.

In 2015, following an attempt by then Kiharu MP Irungu Kang'ata (now Murang’a senator), the President vetoed a bill with a similar proposal on grounds of sustainability challenges.

The President refused to assent to the bill saying it would require massive finances from the National Treasury to maintain.

He also removed provisions for graduates who fail to secure employment a year after completing studies to be free from penalties once they informed the board.

Kangata had also sought that students get two seats at the Helb board, changes that were lost as he could not raise the two-thirds required to overturn a president’s veto.

The initial bill also sought that Helb was to give reasons for declining an application for a loan and that those who failed could appeal the decision.

In August, MPs rejected a bill that would have provided for lower interest on Helb loans – to three per cent and a grace repayment period of five years.

The National Assembly Education Committee rejected the bill warning that the board stood to lose Sh693 million annually.

“The reduction of interest rate to three per cent is likely to plunge the Board into a huge student funding deficit where many needy students will miss out on the funding,” the Busia Woman MP Florence Mutua-led committee said in a report.

The team warned that there would be huge negative impact on Helb helping students in the future if the interest rates are reviewed downwards.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)