More university students set to benefit from Helb
A total of 59,500 new students joining universities this year will get loans from the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb).
Chief executive officer Charles Ringera said so far the agency has received applications from 23,200 students.
First time loan applications were opened from June 1 and will be closed on August 30.
“To date 23,200 applicants have applied and printed the forms; and out of the 23,200 printed forms, 2,345 have been submitted for processing,” Mr Ringera said.
Out of the 615,773 candidates who sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) last year, only 70,000 made the cut-off grade of C plus to join university.
This year the government allocated Sh9.6 billion to Helb to support students. It was cut from the previous budget of Sh10.1 billion, making it the first cut in recent years.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows university enrolment declined to 520,893 this year from 564,507 a year ago — making it the first drop since the government stated making public student numbers in the 1990s.
Admission to public universities of students who scored C+ and above over the past two years has reduced the pool of learners available for private varsities and parallel degrees.
The falling student enrolment looks set to ease pressure on Helb, which has struggled in recent years to cater for the needs of the students, many of whom are from poor families.
The allocation of Sh9.6 billion includes cash recovered from past loanees, meaning that the actual allocation from the Treasury is much lower.
Already Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has extended defaulters waiver for one month after the agency raised Sh500 million by end of June.
Ms Mohamed said the waiver was extended because past beneficiaries were willing to repay their loans.
“Based on enthusiasm that most loanees have shown its imperative that we extend the repayment period so that we give them an opportunity to repay,” she said.