Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) CEO Charles Ringera says the institution is unable to fund 140,000 students across various universities and tertiary institutions in the country.
Appearing before the National Assembly National Assembly Public Investment Committee on Education and Governance (PCEG) on Wednesday, March 22, Mr. Ringera revealed the agency had run out of funds and they are also unable to source external financing to help them cater to students’ accommodation and tuition fees.
”Currently, we have 140, 000 students in TVETs and Universities across the country that we have not been able to fund to the tune of Sh. 5.7B because we have run out of the budget that we presented to the Treasury,” Ringera told Parliament.
The HELB boss disclosed their request to fill the current financial deficit through a supplementary budget they had presented to the Treasury was declined. HELB allocates a successful loan applicant Sh35, 000 and Sh60,000 annually. In the current 2023/2024 financial year, the agency was allocated Sh14.8B.
Last year, 173, 345 students scored the minimum university entry grade in the 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), an increase of 19 percent compared to 2021 which recorded 145, 776 students.
Mr. Ringera informed PCEG that despite HELB collecting around Sh400M every month from former loanees, which they add to the Treasury disbursements, they still are unable to meet their financial obligations.
”Every month we collect around Sh400M from former loanees. The quarter exchequer release is Sh. 3B while what HELB has collected by that time is Sh. 1.2B, totaling around Sh. 4.2B, which is below the Sh7B required to adequately service student loan applications,” he added.
On Monday, March 18, approximately 50 university students were arrested by police at Chester House in Nairobi after holding a press conference calling for an immediate disbursement of HELB funds. The students also declared support for the ongoing Monday and Thursday demonstrations called by the Azimio La Umoja leaders to push for lowering the high cost of living among other issues.