The Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) has raised its credit allocation per student by up to Sh10,000 amid rising costs in university life.
Under the new adjustments, each student will receive a minimum loan of Sh40,000 and a maximum of Sh60,000 per academic year. At the moment, the allocation ranges between Sh35,000 and Sh50,000 per year.
Helb chief executive Charles Ringera said the increase has been made possible after the Treasury topped up the agency’s allocation with Sh1.5 billion through the mini-budget towards end of last financial year.
“The increase is meant to cushion students from rising cost of living,” said Mr Ringera.
The agency has been funding needy students to the tune of between Sh35,000 and Sh50,000 per year, based on their economic background.
The minimum allocation had remained unchanged for more than eight years while the highest amount was cut last year amid funding shortfalls.
Of the total loan disbursed, Sh8,000 is sent directly to the university as tuition fees and the balance to the beneficiary’s bank account in two equal tranches covering the first and second semesters.
The Treasury raised its annual allocation to Helb by Sh1.6 billion to Sh9.1 billion this year, compared to Sh7.5 billion last year, creating room for increased student financing.
But first-year students, who started joining public universities last week, are set to suffer delays in receiving their cash in what Helb has attributed to late posting of admission letters to them, resulting in late applications.
The majority of loan applicants come from poor households and require financial support from Helb to pay for their tuition and upkeep.
Most universities require full payment of a semester’s fees to admit students and delay in disbursement, therefore, risks forcing some freshmen to postpone their studies.
But Mr Ringera said the agency has arrangements with universities to ensure no student is locked out due to a lack of fees.
“We have written to the universities to give us an indication of the students who are going to report either in late August or early September so that we can prioritise their payments as soon the information is received,” he said.
“For late applicants we will communicate with the universities to allow them to register as we process their payments.”
Helb is this year expected to spend up to Sh3.1 billion on the freshmen.
About 74,389 students who sat their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams last year have been selected to join public universities, up from 67,790 last year and 53,010 in 2014.
Another 10,000 students who scored the minimum admission grade B- (56 points and above) are set to be sponsored by the government for admission to private universities.