President Bola Tinubu on June 12th signed into law, the Access To Higher Education Bill, popularly called the Student Loan Bill. The Bill was sponsored by Speaker of the House of Representatives and Chief of Staff to the President-designate, Femi Gbajabiamila, and it was passed by the Legislative in May 2023.
The purpose of the Bill is contained in its title: “A Bill for an Act to provide for easy access to higher education for Nigerians through an interest-free loan from the Nigerian Education Bank established in this Act to provide education for Nigerians and other purposes connected thereto.”
Below are some of the things you should know about the new law:
- All applicants must apply to the Chairman of the Bank and through the Student Affairs Office of their various institutions – University, College of Education, Polytechnic or Vocational School – established by the Federal Government or any State Government.
- Applicant income or family income shall be less than N500,000 per annum
- Each applicant must provide two guarantors who must be a civil servant with at least 12 years experience, or a lawyer with at least 10 years post-call experience, or a Judicial Officer, or a Justice of Peace
- A student can be disqualified if they or their parents have defaulted any loan in the past, or they (student) have been convicted of drug related offences or any felony involving dishonesty or fraud, or they if they have been found guilty of exam malpractices by any school authority.
- Processing and disbursement of the loan shall be made within 30 days of the application reaching the Bank
- The loan granted to students shall only be for the payment of Tuition and shall be interest-free.
- Repayment of the Loan shall commence two years after the completion of the applicant’s NYSC programme.
- 10% of the applicant’s salary shall be deducted at source by any employer for the repayment of the loan. And if they are self-employed, they will remit 10% of their total monthly profit as repayment of the loan.
- Defaulters, or anyone aiding them shall be liable, upon conviction, to two years imprisonment, or a fine of N500,000 or both.
- The new Act establishes the Nigerian Education Bank that will supervise the process, administer, and monitor these loans.
- The Bank shall have a Governing Board that will be chaired by a Professor who is a retired Vice Chancellor of any Nigerian university. The Board will include representatives from Academic Staff Union of Universities, Vice Chancellors Forum, Rectors Forum, Nigerian Labour Congress, Nigerian Bar Association, the Minister of Education, Auditor General of the Federation, the Minister of Finance or their Representative, Chairman of Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), among others.
More information on the Bill can be found here.