Half of First Year students yet to get funds from Helb

Charles Ringera.
Helb chief executive Charles Ringera. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Half of first year university students have entered the second month since their admission without funding from the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb).

The board failed to meet its promise to wire cash to the students’ accounts upon admission in the first week of September.

Most of the learners come from poor backgrounds and require financial assistance to meet their tuition fees and upkeep. The underfunding has prompted protests from students in recent years.

“We have processed and disbursed loans to 32,606 first time undergraduate students amounting to Sh1.45 billion out of the budgeted 64,400 students to be funded,” said Chief Executive officer Charles Ringera in a statement.

Several students have protested the delay saying they are being inconvenienced as some have had to seek additional funds from their parents for upkeep. “The process is ongoing as students are still submitting the application forms,” said Mr Ringera. He disclosed that Helb has already awarded 165,256 continuing students loans amounting to Sh7.07 billion.

“Payments are ongoing as per the various university calendars,” said Mr Ringera.

Early last month, Helb indicated that all students would be having the money sent to their accounts by mid-September. The National Treasury had allocated Sh10.1 billion for student loans for the year to June next year, but the funds are released to Helb in bits.

The Treasury has, in the year starting July, experienced a cash crunch due to below-target revenues, and high debt payments, which have eated into funding for essential services and projects.

This prompted the recent push for austerity that saw the Treasury last month shave off Sh34.33 billion from the development budget.

A total of 4,451 qualified students will miss out on the cheaper Helb funding.

Since the inception of the Students Loan Fund in 1974, Helb has disbursed Sh84 billion to 671,448 loanees.