HELB Loans 2021: Waiting Period, Penalties and Interests

Kenyans waiting for service at Helb offices
A photo of Kenyans waiting for service at HELB offices.

The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) enhances equity in higher education by awarding loans and bursaries to Kenyan students in institutions of higher learning education.

Loans refer to the payable sum of money which attracts an interest of 4 percent per annum while students who receive bursaries are not required to pay back the grants.

Loans and bursaries don’t have separate application processes but qualifications for the bursaries depend on the information provided by a student on the HELB application form.

The loans are not automatic but have to be applied for. Therefore, students are advised to apply at least a month before school commences to allow time for processing of the application and disbursement of the funds.

When the loan has been approved, tuition funds are disbursed directly to the school account while upkeep funds are deposited to the students personal account so, students are advised to ensure their bank accounts are always active.

Students getting services at HELB offices
A photo of students getting services at HELB offices

Kenyans.co.ke talked to HELB Head of Corporate Communication & Customer Experience, Wavi Mungala, who answered some of the frequently asked questions by students.  

Was the HELB loan limit reduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic? If so, what is the new loan limit? When will the normal loan limit be reinstated?
The loan limits have remained the same. For instance, for undergraduate loans, the minimum amount is Kshs 35,000 and the maximum is Kshs 60,000.

Does this change the interest rate or penalties? Are there any changes in the application process?
The interest and penalties applicable on default remain the same for the various loan products.
The application process for first time applicants remains the same. However, subsequent loan applications are done through the HELB Mobile App or USSD Code *642#

How long do applicants wait to get the loans? I have seen some applicants are still waiting for the money to be disbursed.  
HELB largely relies on The National Treasury for Funding. Therefore, subject to availability of funds, loans are ideally disbursed within fourteen (14) days before the commencement of the semester.

Explain more about the HELB diaspora and HELB Jielimishe Loan.
HELB does not have a Diaspora Loan however, beneficiaries who have relocated to the diaspora are expected to repay their loan.
For more information see:

Jielimishe loan targets salaried applicants and is awarded on account of the applicants ability to repay the loan. For more information see:
How fast do you respond to continuing students' loan appeal requests? How much is the maximum amount after an appeal?

Appeals are handled and responded to continuously within the financial year. Maximum Amounts are based on loan category limits. For instance, undergraduate loan limit is Kshs. 60,000

When is a student awarded a compliance certificate?
We do not issue Compliance certificates to students. Rather to loanees (past loan beneficiaries) currently repaying their loans and non-loanees where need arises.
When HELB credits excess money to the school and the school returns the unutilized funds back to HELB, do you deduct the loan amount for the student?  
Returned unutilized funds go into reducing the loans of the affected if the beneficiary has already completed their studies or redirected if still a student.

There might be some changes in the HELB Act if a bill sponsored by Igembe South MP John Mwirigi sails through parliament. The bill which was presented seeks to amend Section 15 of the Higher Education Loans Board Act, subsection (1) by deleting the words "completion of studies" appearing after the words 'year of' and substituting with the words "securing employment."

This will mean that graduates will start repaying the HELB loans once they secure a job, unlike the current status where graduates are expected to start repaying the loans once they finish their studies.

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