Helb disburses funds to 47,000 students

Friday February 5 2016

Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) CEO Charles Ringera speaks during a press conference on February 4, 2016. Mr Ringera said the board has started working on the second semester disbursement and will be through by March. PHOTO | ROBERT NGUGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) CEO Charles Ringera speaks during a press conference on February 4, 2016. Mr Ringera said the board has started working on the second semester disbursement and will be through by March. PHOTO | ROBERT NGUGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By OUMA WANZALA
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The Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) has finally released money for 47,000 first-year university students.

However, 9,000 who qualified for the loans have not received the cash as some presented incomplete forms despite meeting all the requirements.

“We have asked them to complete filling in the forms. They are in need of the money but some forms have not been filled in by guarantors, while other applicants did not submit copies of identity cards,” said Helb Chief Executive Officer Charles Ringera.

The students, who reported to their respective universities in September last year, were supposed to have received the cash by November.

On Thursday, Mr Ringera said the board had started working on the second semester disbursement and will be through by March.

“We have received Sh2.1 billion from the government for disbursement and we are working around the clock to ensure the students have the cash on time,” he said.

He spoke in Nairobi during the launch of a partnership with a credit reference bureau, Creditinfo, which has been tasked with the profiling of mature students to enable them to get loans.

Mr Ringera said a total of 71,000 students applied for the loans.

He added that the highest beneficiary has received Sh60,000 while the lowest got Sh35,000.

Mr Ringera said the board is in talks with the government so that it can carry forward balances to September so that it can support students once they join universities to avoid inconveniences.

DEFAULTERS
He added that about 70,000 past beneficiaries are holding up to Sh11 billion and their whereabouts are unknown since they received the support as early as the 1970s.

Mr Ringera said the board is working on an insurance policy for undergraduate loans to ensure easy recovery of the money.

The board’s annual budget is Sh8.8 billion, which it is supposed to use to support about 200,000 students in universities and colleges.

There are 75 universities and 65 colleges whose students are benefiting from the loans. Seventy more colleges are being constructed across the country.

On postgraduate beneficiaries, Mr Ringera announced that Sh500 million had been set aside to support 5,000 applicants.

He said so far Sh1.5 billion had been used to support 14,000 post-graduate beneficiaries, with the board giving as much as Sh600,000 for doctorate of philosophy students.

Mr Ringera added that the board had collected Sh2 billion out of Sh3.6 billion it was targeting for the last one year and hopes to raise the remaining Sh1.6 billion in six months.

However, he regretted the poor uptake of loans by students in technical institutions, saying out of the 12,000 who qualified, only 8,000 have applied for the Sh300 million.

“We call on technical students to apply for the loans since our records show that the employment rate for such graduates is almost 80 per cent and the repayment rate is good,” said Mr Ringera.