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EXCLUSIVE: Finally, portal for student loan applications to open Feb 21

EXCLUSIVE: Finally, portal for student loan applications to open Feb 21
February 09
18:18 2024

The much-awaited student loan scheme will be officially launched in Abuja on February 21 by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, TheCable can report.

The loan is open to all Nigerian students in the country’s higher institutions, with a flexible repayment plan starting from two years of earning an income after national youth service.

Tinubu has also directed that qualified Nigerians with informal education and those in private universities be included in the initiative.

Only students currently enrolled in the universities will be accommodated in the first phase of the scheme, TheCable further learnt.

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The launch had been on hold till now in order “to perfect the administrative and logistical infrastructure”, sources in the know told TheCable.

Akintunde Sawyerr, the executive secretary of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND), confirmed the launch date to TheCable.

“The portal will go live on February 21. The application process will be fully technology-driven. This is to create a level field for eligible students by removing avenues for graft, bias and prejudice usually associated with human interaction,” he told TheCable.

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According to the selection criteria, an applicant must be a Nigerian and must be a bona fide student of higher institution of learning in Nigeria, in addition to qualifying for financial inclusion and having an acceptable academic performance.

Applicants must be undergraduates, currently studying in a tertiary institution, or applying for the first time.

Those applying for second, master or doctorate degrees are not eligible for the loan.

On the application portal, which TheCable understands will be unveiled at the launch, applicants will be required to provide basic personal data such as the national identification number (NIN), bank verification number (BVN) and JAMB number which will be in their digital records for seamless verification.

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TheCable was informed that the loan will be disbursed directly to the schools through NELFUND’s single treasury account at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) without any intermediary, such as commercial banks and finance houses.

The special committee of the NELFUND is also expected to be inaugurated soon.

The members, as stipulated by the law, are: the governor of the CBN as the chairman; the executive secretary of the NELFUND as the secretary; a representative of the minister of education; and the chairman of the National Universities Commission (NUC).

Others are: a representative of vice-chancellors forum of all Nigerian universities; a representative of the rectors forums of all Nigerian polytechnics and provosts forum of all colleges of education in Nigeria; a representative of the minister of finance, the auditor-general of the federation; a representative of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC); a representative of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA); and a representative of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

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The Students Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act was passed by the National Assembly in 2023 to provide easy access to higher education for indigent Nigerians through interest-free loans and was signed into law by Tinubu on June 13, 2023.

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