In a bid to liberalise education funding in Nigeria, President Bola Tinubu has signed the Student Loan Bill into law.
The President’s assent to the bill is in fulfilment of one of his promises to enable indigent students to access federal government loans to fund their educational pursuit and career advancement.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr David Adejo Andrew, flanked by the President’s media team, led by Mr Dele Alake, a member of the Presidential Strategic Team, disclosed this to State House correspondents, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Other members of the President’s media team at the briefing, included Tunde Rahman and Abdulaziz Abdulaziz.
The student loan bill sponsored by the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, which provides for interest-free loans to indigent Nigerian students, passed the third reading at the House, two weeks ago.
The Permanent Secretary said that the Student Loan Bill that has been signed into law is an interest free loan.
Access to Education
Asked if the new law will not encourage inflation of school fees, the Presidential Media Team leader Alake said both situations are unrelated, adding that the idea behind the law is to help indigent students to be able to obtain education in the country.
He said, “We are very happy to announce to you that today (Monday), just a few minutes ago, the President His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, signed into law, the Student Loan Bill and you all know what it entails what it connotes the meaning.
“This is the promise made during the presidential campaign by the then candidate, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that he will bring back the student loans issue to the front burner and today, that promise he made has been kept, he has just signed that bill into law, which henceforth, will allow or enable our indigent students to access federal government loans to fund their educational pursuit or career and this is how it’s done in other developed climes all over the world”, he said.
Slake further stressed that the grant is solely for the purpose of creating opportunity for indigent candidates to get education seeking higher education in public universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in the country.
The new law provides easy access to higher education for Nigerians through interest free loans through the Nigerian Education Bank with a view to provide education for all Nigerians.
The new law makes provision for Nigerians seeking higher education into institutions of higher learning to secure loans through Nigerian Education Bank.
The Act provides an interest-free loan for indigent students in which beneficiaries will only pay back the exact amount they collect.
According to the act, all students seeking higher education in any public institution of higher learning in Nigeria shall have equal rights to access the loan without any form of discrimination arising from gender, religion, tribe, position or disability of any kind.
The Act also stipulates that the loan shall be granted to students only for the payment of tuition fees.
Disbursement through Nigerian Education Bank
Indigenous student can secure loans through Nigerian Education Bank. Nigerian Education Bank established in this Act to provide education for Nigerians and other purposes connected thereto.’
The new Act will establish the Nigerian Education Bank, which will have the power to supervise, coordinate, administer, and monitor the management of the student loan.
The Student Loan Bill would also address the issue of lack of funds hindering indigent students’ educational pursuits.
A percentage of the Federation’s revenue will be used to finance this new initiative.
The repayment for the Student Loan Bill will be a direct deduction of 10% of the student’s salary at the source. The bank will collaborate with the employer to deduct the loan repayment from the student’s salary and transfer it to the student loan fund account.
The Student Loan Bill must be repaid within two years after completing the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program. If self-employed, the government will collect 10% of the total monthly profit. The student is responsible for making the loan repayments directly to the education bank.