How Tax Returns Will Determine HELB Loan

University Fund CEO Geoffrey Monari speaking at an event on March 25, 2022,
University Fund CEO Geoffrey Monari speaking at an event on March 25, 2022,
Geoffrey Monari

Universities Fund Chief Executive Geoffrey Monari has revealed that the government will rely on data from other State agencies to qualify students for scholarships and loans.

Speaking during an interview on Wednesday, Monari highlighted that the allocation of funds to each student, along with their respective categorisation, will be determined based on key factors such as tax data, health insurance, and retirement contributions. 

He emphasised that the decision-making process will heavily rely on information sourced from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to accurately assess family incomes.

"For example if you are paying Ksh1,700 for NHIF it means you are at a certain income bracket or if we go to KRA and look at your returns, it means you are at a certain income bracket," Monari stated.

A collage of Kenyatta University (left), Moi University (centre), and Egerton University (right)
A collage of the entrance to Kenyatta University (left), Moi University (centre), and Egerton University (right)
Kenyatta University / Moi University

While data will be crucial in determining households' income brackets, Monari explained that making a more informed decision will require careful consideration of the information provided in applications. 

The applications will contain details about students' backgrounds and family income, among other factors.

Some experts have raised concerns about the potential consequences of the new funding model. They argue that, given the current economic environment, education could become expensive, making it unaffordable for many families. 

Additionally, questions have been raised about how the government will assess the vulnerability of applicants, especially considering that a significant number of Kenyans work in the informal sector.

"The new model of funding higher education is a backdoor way to end education subsidies just as I had foreseen," Ephraim Njenga, an economist, remarked.

"Now they will be classified as able hence liable to pay full university fees of over Ksh250,000 per year. If you have two students in the university, you will struggle even with a good salary. Only the very rich wouldn't feel the pinch."

Critics of the new system have chided the government for hurriedly implementing the changes without conducting enough public participation and experimenting without considering the consequences it will have.

"Every sane Kenyan should oppose the experimentation going on in our education sector. It doesn't matter whether you can afford the shenanigans or not," Njenga warned.

NHIF building in Nairobi.