3 months after policy announcement, student loan in limbo
The September 2023 date announced for the take-off of the Student Loan Scheme is set to expire without the portal being opened for the students to commence applications, LEADERSHIP has gathered.
On June 14, 2023, the federal government said it had begun putting all necessary measures in place to ensure the student loan scheme begins between September and October 2023.
The permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Andrew David Adejo, while speaking to newsmen in Abuja, said President Bola Tinubu had approved a committee made up of ministries and agencies to see to the realisation of the Students Loan Bill.
However, with a few days to go and without any action in that regard, students across the country are pressuring the government to stop delaying the implementation of the loan but go ahead and open a portal for application.
The Student Loan Bill, sponsored by the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, provides for interest-free loans to indigent Nigerian students.
The law provides easy access to higher education for indigent Nigerians through interest-free loans from the Nigerian Education Loan Fund, the permanent secretary said.
Speaking in an interview with LEADERSHIP, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) confirmed that the loan portal had not been opened for them to apply as of the time of filing this report.
NANS coordinator of Zone C, Comrade Anzaku Shedrack said, “We have not been given access or any other information since the pronouncement of that deadline.”
A student of University of Abuja, Uge Benjamin, urged the government to keep to its promise by working out modalities for students to start accessing the loans before the end of the year.
“October is already ending and I’m not sure there will be any positive news this month. But my appeal to the government is for it to finalise the process on the bill before year end,” Benjamin said.
Meanwhile, a senior official in the Federal Ministry of Education, who does not want his name in print, said the delay may be that the federal government is reworking the law given the controversies over the bill.
According to him, “The complaints raised by some stakeholders about the stringent conditions attached to accessing the money, the period of repayment and others may push the government to rethink the bill which may result in it not meeting the October deadline.”
LEADERSHIP reports that the steps to access the loan are: Students must apply to the chairman of the Bank through their respective institutions upon securing admission into any public Nigerian university, polytechnic, college of education (COE) or TVET school.
Applicant’s income or family income must be less than N500,000 per annum, while applicant must also provide at least two civil servants as guarantors of not less than level 12 years in service, or a lawyer with at least 10 years post-call experience, a judicial officer, or a Justice of the Peace.
Also, students who have defaulted in previous loans; found guilty of exam malpractices, felony, drug offenses will not be considered.
Furthermore, students with parents who have defaulted in respect of previous loans will not be considered, while all applications will be submitted through the Students Affairs Office of each institution via a list of all qualified applicants from the institution by a cover letter signed by the vice chancellor or rector or the head of the institution.
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