Honour your obligations: Board tells Helb loanees
The Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) has urged loanees to honour their repayment obligation saying 75,000 students are at risk of not being funded this year.
Helb Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Charles Ringera made the remarks yesterday as he announced the board has extended the 100 per cent Covid-19 penalty waiver dubbed #KamilishaMalipoYaHELB initially scheduled to run from March 1 to April 30, to June 30.
“Our target was to get Sh700 million from this campaign but at the end of April we had collected about Sh368 million or 51 per cent of the target and that was one of the reasons that informed the board to extend,” Ringera, who spoke from his office in Nairobi, said.
He said the board had not foreseen that the end of the penalty waiver period which was April 30 would coincide with school reopening hence the extension.
He said that out of the waiver campaign, interventions have been made to fund at least 12,000 out of the 75,000 very needy cases with the almost Sh400 million.
The board is optimistic that by the end of next month, it will raise at least Sh400 million more to cover an additional 12,000 needy students.
If this is achieved, he said at least a quarter of the 75,000 students will be factored in by help of the waiver campaign Helb is running.
“The 75,000 students are new. We had an exponential rise in terms of new applicants. Our budget was to fund 74,000 students but we had an application of up to 120,000, including universities and Tvet institutions,” he explained.
Ringera explained the Helb put waiver campaign on motion owing to pressures the loanees have been having either impacted by Covid-19 and were not able to pay or where students previously who were supported by their parents lost their livelihoods and had sent their children to Helb.
He also explained that penalties are levied to an account when one does not patronize it at a rate of Sh5,000 per month and that is what Helb is writing off 100 per cent.
“Helb supports the very needy in society. When needy in society increase, the Helb budget gets squeezed,” said Ringera.
“That is why you can see there are 75,000 applications worth Sh3 billion that we think that if we do not do anything, especially now that requested for supplementary support from Exchequer aand it is not coming, then we need to do all manner of frantic efforts to be able to put in a small amount of money that we can be able to support these very vulnerable 75,000 that might go unfunded this financial year which is ending on June 30,” he added.
Helb had targeted to fund 162,000 continuing students from 2019/20 when Covid-19 was pronounced.
But due to the closure of schools for about nine months, there are some who overstayed in school and therefore that number moved from 162,000 to 174,000 applications of the continuing students, a surge of about 12,000 on top of what was budgeted for.
He said the pressure went to the first time applicants because the board’s obligation is to first support students it had been supporting on a continued basis, so the second, third or fourth year students get first priority before bringing in the new ones
“When you look at the new ones again, we had targeted to cover at least 71,000 but the total applications that we received was about 96,000. That shows that while they could have been able to support themselves, their parents or guardians could have been affected by Covid-19 and that is why we had an avalanche of applications,” said Ringera.