HELB Rejects New Proposal on Student Loans

  • Kenyans waiting for service at Helb offices
    Kenyans waiting for service at Helb offices.
  • The Higher Educations Loans Board (HELB), has rejected proposals to have the grace period for the repayment of student loans extended to four years. 

    HELB CEO, Charles Ringera, on Sunday November 1, stated that the proposed bill would affect other students benefiting from the same programme. He instead proposed that the board adopts other measures in order to cope with the myriad challenges.

    "The only remedy would be to either reduce the number of student beneficiaries, or reduce the amount allocated to each student," Ringera stated.

    HELB CEO Charles Ringera.
    HELB CEO Charles Ringera.

    He argued that if the bill was to take effect, then the grace period extension would adversely affect the operations of the board, which would have a ripple effect on the students as well.

    The Building Bridges' initiative (BBI) document presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, October 21, proposed that the grace period given to the beneficiaries be extended to four years from the date of completing their studies.

    "The amendment seeks to give loanees a grace period of four years from the date of completion of their studies. After this, they can commence repayment of loans advanced to them

    "Further, it amends the Act to exempt loanees without a source of income, upon application to the Board, from paying interest on the loans advanced to them, till such time when the loanees shall start earning an income," read the statement in part.

    The Bill seeks to amend the Higher Education Loans Board Act 1995, that only accorded the students a window period of one year after completion of studies.

    Currently, student beneficiaries are allocated a sum of Ksh 43,000 to Ksh 68,000 from the board. This sum is meant to cater for the students who need financial aid in order to complete their studies.

    The funds boss was speaking in Virtual conference on State of Higher Education organized by the Commission for University Education.

    The two day conference meeting was held to analyse the preparedness of the education system in regards to the pandemic period, strategize on technology innovations as well as strategies to employ to advance the sector.

    Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, a university student who sought anonymity, advocated for the grace period extension stating that the youths would be given enough time to establish their career before repaying the loans. She also admonished the Ksh5,000 fine that Helb imposes for every month that a loanee fails to make a service payment for the loan. 

    "In my opinion, the changes are good. Youths are allowed ample time to look for a job and establish their career before we begin to repay the loans. I am fourth year student and the loans have been beneficial to me and my family. I would not want them (HELB) to reduce the amount," she said.

    HELB contact centre. Applications for the second and subsequent undergraduate loans 2020-2021 financial year are open.
    File image of HELB contact centre