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Student Loan conditional for students — NELFUND boss

…Targets only indigent students, at the bottom of the ladder in society

 

Accessing the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) is conditional for students.

 

NELFUND Managing Director/CEO, Mr Akintunde Sawyerr, who clarified on Wednesday at an interactive session with newsmen under the aegis of the Education Writers’ Association of Nigeria (EWAN) at the University of Lagos, Akoka, pointed out that students in private tertiary institutions, convicted inmates in correctional centres nationwide and Nigerian students schooling abroad are exempted from benefiting from the loan.

According to him, the NETFUND loan, which is a pool of one per cent of the company’s annual tax, is strictly for students in Nigerian public tertiary schools either in the universities, polytechnics, colleges of education or government-owned skills acquisition and vocational centres.

He restated that the idea of the loan is to ensure that no Nigerian students, irrespective of financial difficulty and courses of studies in Nigerian public schools, would drop out of school due to financial challenges.

EWAN is a body of journalists across print, broadcast and online media organisations in the country who cover the nation’s education sector.

Sawyerr explained that NELFUND would run purely as a financial institution (and not a grants giver) offering a free-interest loan to students who or their parents may not have financial wherewithal to sponsor their studies.

According to him, the NELFUND loan targets only indigent students, people at the bottom of the ladder in society. To redistribute wealth in their favour so as not to deny them access to quality education.

Sawyerr pointed out that the loan which will be in two segments can only be 100 per cent (and not less) of the entire obligatory fees payable by students in a particular institution plus the stipends for other needs including accommodation and feeding per each academic session and based on the geographic locations of their schools.

He noted that the first segment of the loan, which will take care of various fees charged by each institution would be paid directly to schools on behalf of students while the stipends would be paid directly into the beneficiary bank accounts as the need arises.

NELFUND CEO further noted that beneficiaries of the loan would apply each academic session and not at once even though they may spend multiple years to complete their studies, their applications would be treated within 30 days.

He said NELFUND had devised a means for smooth and transparent operations as it would work with the supplied verifiable details of beneficiaries such as BVN, NIN, and admission letters from their schools, commercial banks and other partnering institutions to access the loan.

According to him, students already with fat bank accounts and “ghost students”, if there is anything like that, will never access the scheme.

Similarly, the managing director also declared that even though the loan repayment would officially be from two years after beneficiaries have been discharged from the one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme, repayment can be earlier or much later depending on whether the beneficiaries are economically engaged.

“So, there is no watertight timeline for repayment.

“Somebody could collect our loan today while still in school and may want to return the whole money the second day if he or she does not need the loan again. We will collect it.

“The same thing shall be applicable to those, who used the loan throughout their studies time and graduated without getting job on time. We can’t expect such type of individuals to start paying back their loan when they are yet to be economically engaged.

“It is simple, where will they get the money from since they must not engage in criminal activities?

“But definitely, we will know when somebody gets job or is economically engaged two years after NYSC programme.”

Sawyerr, however, noted that though the organisation is set to commence receiving applications from interested students, the portal is not yet opened for such.

“We will open portal soon and this will be made public once we want to do that,” he concluded.

 

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