In a highly anticipated move, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is set to officially launch the student loan scheme in Abuja on February 21, as reported exclusively by TheCable. The initiative aims to provide financial assistance to Nigerian students enrolled in higher institutions, promoting access to education for all.
Key Features of the Student Loan Scheme:
- Flexible Repayment Plan: The student loan offers a flexible repayment plan, commencing two years after the completion of the National Youth Service.
- Inclusion of Informal Education and Private Universities: President Tinubu has directed the inclusion of qualified individuals with informal education and students from private universities in the scheme.
- First Phase Limited to Current University Students: The initial phase of the program will only accommodate students currently enrolled in universities, with plans to expand its scope in subsequent phases.
- Administrative and Logistical Infrastructure: The launch, previously on hold, aimed to perfect the administrative and logistical infrastructure to ensure a smooth and effective rollout.
- Technology-Driven Application Process: The application process will be entirely technology-driven, eliminating potential avenues for graft, bias, and prejudice often associated with human interaction.
Eligibility and Application Process:
- Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be Nigerian citizens, bona fide students of higher institutions in the country, qualify for financial inclusion, and maintain an acceptable academic performance.
- Undergraduate Applicants Only: The loan is available for undergraduate students currently studying in tertiary institutions or applying for the first time. Postgraduate students are not eligible.
- Digital Verification: The application portal, set to be unveiled at the launch, will require applicants to provide basic personal data, including the national identification number (NIN), bank verification number (BVN), and JAMB number for seamless verification.
Loan Disbursement and Special Committee:
- Direct Disbursement: Loans will be disbursed directly to schools through the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND)’s single treasury account at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), bypassing intermediaries like commercial banks and finance houses.
- Special Committee: The special committee of NELFUND, as stipulated by law, will include key figures such as the CBN governor, the executive secretary of NELFUND, a representative of the Minister of Education, and others from relevant sectors.
Background on the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act:
- Legislation: The Students Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act, passed by the National Assembly in 2023, aims to provide interest-free loans to indigent Nigerians, facilitating easy access to higher education.
- Signing into Law: President Tinubu signed the act into law on June 13, 2023, demonstrating the government’s commitment to enhancing educational opportunities for the country’s youth.
As the portal goes live on February 21, this initiative is expected to make significant strides in promoting education accessibility and affordability for Nigerian students.
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