University and college students will be dropping out or scrambling for fees as the government plans to cut off loans for 95,000 students.

The Higher Education Loans Board says Covid-19 has drained its funds, forcing it to reduce the number of students it can help.

Loans will not be provided to 65,000 university students and another 30,000 students in technical colleges.

Helb CEO Charles Ringera said on Tuesday the cut-off means a number of students from low-income

families will probably drop out and others defer studies.

“We are worried how we are going to manage the situation, but that is the way it is,” Ringera said. “There are no revenues flowing into the country, people are unemployed so they cannot repay their loans, so we have to deal with what we have.”

Helb intended to provide loans to 545,000 students in universities and technical colleges this year, costing Sh15.5 billion. Of this, 340,000 were university students and 110,000 students in technical colleges.

Universities and colleges on Monday, resumed face-to-face learning after a long shut-down to curb Covid infections.

They had been forced to switch to online teaching and learning. Even university students receiving loans

will get less than in previous years.

Helb said it has reduced students’ allocations from Sh45,000 to about Sh38,000 each.

However, the amount given to students in technical college has been maintained at Sh40,000, Ringera said.

“The board sought to lend to 110,000 students in technical colleges but only 80,000 will benefit,”

he said. “Cuts in beneficiaries are unfortunate because no one asks for a loan if they do not need it.”

Technical colleges have been the biggest beneficiaries of the loan programme since the introduction of government sponsorship of learners.

The government pays part of their fees, then like university students, they access loans. The fees in TVET institutions are Sh56,420.

This is how it works:

The government provides Sh30,000 capitation for each TVET trainee, which is paid directly

into college accounts.

The students also receive Sh40,000 loans annually from Helb, enough to pay fees and have extra for upkeep.

  • The Star/ Lewis Nyaundi