Helb Forced to Write Off Ksh55.6 Million in Student Loans

The Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) has chalked off Ksh55.6 million in debt owed by students.

In a statement dated Saturday, January 14, Helb chief executive Charles Ringera explained that the board was forced to write off the huge chunk of money as bad debt after discovering that the funds were tied to 653 beneficiaries who had since passed on.

He went on to disclose that out of the 653,110 beneficiaries lost their lives in the tragic April 2015 Garissa University attack that claimed the lives of 147 people.

According to Ringera, the higher education financier is currently handicapped and could be unable to provide loans to the eligible 113,953 students in the 2019/2020 academic year.

Higher Education Loans Board chief executive officer Charles Ringera speaks during the launch of a partnership with the Credit Reference Bureau in Nairobi on February 4, 2016.

He went to announce that the institution was struggling to recover Ksh4.9 billion to bolster the Ksh15.5 billion allocated for the year ending June 2020.

“If the target of Ksh4.9 billion is not achieved, a third of the 370,000 students in universities and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges will not get loans for remaining part of the 2019/2020,” Ringera was quoted.

Helb is currently toiling in a bid to recover Ksh7.7 billion from former students who have defaulted in remitting payments back to the financier.

This forced the Ringera-led team to come up with aggressive ways to recover the money culminating in a November, 2019, threat to publish names of defaulters and their photos in local newspapers if they failed to settle their loans in time.

"Please take note the names and pictures of Helb loan beneficiaries who have defaulted repayment of the loan from 1975 to date shall be published in the leading newspapers.

"The names will be published after the expiry of 30 days from the date of this notice and thereafter legal action may ensue against each defaulter as stipulated in the Helb Act," the notice published on November 13, 2019, reads.

The agency said it is currently in pursuit of some 78,328 loan defaulters holding Sh7.7 billion as at 31 December 2019

HELB's notice to defaulters on November 13, 2019.

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