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All You Need To know About FG Student Loan Law Signed By Tinubu

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In a significant move aimed at enhancing access to higher education for Nigerian students, the Tinubu administration has signed the Students Loan Bill into law.

The bill, which passed its second reading at the House of Representatives on May 25, 2023, seeks to provide interest-free loans to students, ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder their educational pursuits.

Dele Alake, a presidential spokesman, disclosed the signing of the bill at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Speaking to State House Correspondents, Alake emphasized that the legislation would greatly benefit young people across the country.

What the loan is for

According to the law, the loan is for students who need money to pay for school tuition fees for public students seeking higher education in any public institution.

In addition, all students seeking higher education in any public institution have an equal right to access the loans under the Act without any discrimination arising from gender, religion, tribe, position or disability of any kind.

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According to Alake, students seeking to avail themselves of this facility must demonstrate evidence of being indigent.

The law also indicates applicants for the student loan will prove that they are indigent Nigerians which is defined as those coming from a family with an income of less than N500k per annum.

The Nigerian Education Loan Fund

The law establishes The Nigerian Education Loan Fund which has various functions as outlined in the Students Loan Bill. Some of the notable functions are as follows;

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These functions include implementing the provisions of the Act, supervising and coordinating the management of student loans in Nigeria, and receiving and screening loan applications from higher institutions to ensure compliance with the Act’s requirements.

The Fund also approves and disburses loans to eligible applicants, monitors the academic records of loan recipients, and ensures timely loan repayments.

Additionally, the Fund provides financial advice on educational matters, ensures adequate loan security, engages in other banking activities, and takes legal action to recover loans and enforce the provisions of the Act.

The Fund is also responsible for issuing quarterly reports on loan performance to the President and establishing rules and guidelines, including application procedures, to enhance efficiency and prevent fraudulent practices.

The Fund shall be domiciled with, managed, and administered by the Central Bank of Nigeria through the money deposit banks in Nigeria.

Committee Overseeing the Fund

To ensure the efficient disbursement of these loans, a committee comprising representatives from various education stakeholders will be established.

The Committee is headed by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, who serves as the Chairman and appoints the Secretary of the Fund.

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Other members include the Minister responsible for education, the Chairman of the National Universities Commission, a representative from the Vice-Chancellors forum of all Nigerian Universities, a representative from the Rectors forum of all Nigerian Polytechnics, and the Provosts forum of all Colleges of Education.

Others also include the Minister responsible for finance or their representative, the Auditor-General for the Federation, a representative from the Nigerian Labour Congress, a representative from the Nigerian Bar Association, and a representative from the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

This committee will play a pivotal role in overseeing the process and ensuring that the loans reach deserving students. Funding for this initiative will be sourced from a percentage of the revenue of the Federation.

Interest-Free Loans

Section 13 of the bill outlines the aims and objectives of the Nigerian Education Fund which include;

First and foremost, the Fund seeks to facilitate the mobilization of funds to provide interest-free loans to students studying at institutions of higher learning in Nigeria.

These loans will be allocated for the payment of tuition fees, addressing financial barriers that often impede students’ access to education.

Additionally, a key objective of the Fund is to ensure a constant supply of loans to qualified student applicants.

By offering interest-free loans, the Fund aims to make higher education more affordable and accessible for students across the country.

How it will be funded

The Nigerian Education Loan Fund, as outlined in the Students Loan Bill, will derive its funding from various sources.

One significant source is education bonds, which will be issued to generate funds specifically for educational purposes.

Additionally, the Fund will benefit from education endowment fund schemes, where contributions and investments will be made to support educational initiatives.

To further bolster the Fund, a percentage of taxes, levies, and duties collected by the Government of the Federation from entities such as the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Immigration Service, and Nigerian Customs Service will be allocated.

This allocation is set at 1% of the total revenue from these sources, ensuring a consistent flow of funds to support student loans and educational programs.

Furthermore, the Nigerian Education Loan Fund will receive 1% of the profits generated by the Government of the Federation from the exploration and exploitation of oil and other mineral resources.

This revenue stream taps into the natural resources sector to contribute to the financing of student loans and educational initiatives.

The Fund’s financial resources will be further supplemented by donations, gifts, grants, endowments, and any other contributions made to the Fund.

This opens avenues for individuals, organizations, and institutions to support the education sector and contribute to expanding access to higher education for Nigerian students.

Lastly, the Fund will have the ability to generate revenue from various other sources. While the specific sources are not specified, this provision allows flexibility for the Fund to explore additional avenues of income generation to sustain its operations and support the implementation of student loan programs effectively.

Penalties for loan default

The Students Loan Bill emphasizes the importance of loan repayment by outlining penalties for individuals who fail to adhere to the provisions of subsection (5) or are found to be aiding such default.

Any individual in default or involved in aiding default is deemed to have committed an offense, subjecting them to potential legal consequences.

According to the provisions of the bill, upon conviction, the defaulter or the individual aiding the default may face a fine of N500,000, imprisonment for a term of two years, or both.

These penalties are designed to underscore the seriousness of loan repayment obligations and encourage borrowers to fulfill their responsibilities promptly.

Read how to Apply for the Student Loan here.

Hammed Tajudeen is a graduate of Osun State Polytechnic, Iree with Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication

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