On June 12, 2023, President Bola Tinubu approved and signed into law the Students Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act, 2023 ("the Act"). This Act repealed the Nigerian Education Bank Act Cap. N104, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and aims to enhance access to higher education for financially disadvantaged ('indigent') Nigerians.
The Act establishes the Nigerian Education Loan Fund ("NELF") under the oversight of the Central Bank of Nigeria ("CBN") and further outlines the funding sources for the NELF.
The Act provides guidelines for loan applications and sets criteria for eligibility. To qualify for the interest-free loan, applicants must meet the following conditions specified in the Act:
- The applicant must have secured admission into a federal or state government university, polytechnic, college of education, or vocational school;
- The applicant's or their family's annual income must be below 500,000 Naira, and
- A minimum of two guarantors is required, who must either be Level 12 civil servants or above, lawyers with at least ten years of post-call experience, Judges or Justices of peace.
When submitting the loan application, applicants are required to submit relevant documents, such as admission letters, acceptance letters of liability from guarantors, and evidence of their guarantors' employment. Repayment of the loan begins two years after completing the National Youth Service Corps ("NYSC") programme. It is worth noting that the student loan provided under this Act is intended to cover tuition fees only.
Based on the information provided, it is uncertain how effective and beneficial the Act will be for Nigerians, particularly considering the purported subsequent increase in admission/education fees for all students in federal and state government schools, and the contention by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that tuition fees are generally not permitted in government funded institutions under applicable local laws.
Click here to view the Act.
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