Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) students have requested an additional Sh2.44 billion to benefit the 61,000 first year students who may not receive loans this academic year.
According to Antony Manyara, president of the Kenya University Students Organisation (Kuso), only about 44,000 first-year students will benefit this year out of a total of 105,000 applicants.
Kuso speaks for the 34 public university and college students.
As part of his campaign strategy, President William Ruto pledged to increase funding for Helb from the current Sh11 billion to Sh22 billion and to make the loans interest-free. Kuso now wants him to keep the promise and “make Helb better”.
According to Mr. Manyara, Helb’s indication that it will not fund all applications due to low financing from the National Treasury will have a negative impact on the education of those who are not funded.
In other words, the court has halted Helb’s attempt to impose astronomical penalties for late loan repayments.
This year, 123,963 students with grades of C+ or higher were placed in universities throughout Kenya by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service. The remaining number of students, around 124,258, were assigned to colleges that offer vocational and technical education.
The money was released by Helb on Thursday, and it should have reached students’ bank accounts by Monday.
Mr. Manyara said, “What we know is that all continuing students will receive their Helb funds by Monday, but for first years it will be tricky.” He also added that efforts were being redoubled to have the Treasury release more money.
“If first-year students will not receive Helb funds, they will be unable to register for their units. They will not be able to cater for their upkeep and will not afford food on campus.”
He said thousands of students had yet to register for their units this semester because of cash delays. On Monday, Kuso wrote Dr Ruto to intervene.
“It is our request that a directive be issued to settle the blame game between Helb and the Treasury so that comrades receive their loans to meet tuition and accommodation expenses, alongside other needs that facilitate their study,” read the letter.
Mr. Manyara disclosed that Kuso was notified that the President had received their letter on Wednesday. “It looks like the President acted on the matter. The Treasury transferred funds to Helb, and on Thursday, disbursement began for continging students and some first-years.
There is currently a disparity in funding, with first-year students receiving an average of Sh40,000 and continuing students receiving an average of Sh43,300.