Federal Govt Explains How Students ‘ll Access Loans

The process for accessing the student loan programme of the Federal Government will be seamless, officials said yesterday.

According to them, there would be no human contact, adding “Everything will be automated.”

Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Students Loan Board, Dr Akintunde Sawyerr, who spoke to reporters at the Aso Villa after meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, explained that funds for successful students would be transferred to the schools’ accounts.

The scheme has been widened to accommodate young Nigerians interested in acquiring skills outside tertiary institutions.

Sawyerr spoke to reporters along with the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Dr Zacch Adedeji.

Dr. Adedeji said his involvement at yesterday’s meeting with the president was because the education tax was a major source of funding for the loan scheme.

Sawyerr explained that the loan scheme would enable every applicant to pick a career trajectory, rather than being forced to do something else because of a lack of funds to acquire the requisite education.

He believes the programme would help to stem the dangerous journey undertaken by Nigerian youths across the Sahel to Europe in search of a better life.

Sawyerr said: “This has been done with a lot of thought. So in application and in applying for this loan, there is zero human intervention, adding “In other words, there is an App.

“Every interested Nigerian will go on to a portal and engage the App. He/she will have to put in certain pieces of information, which will make them eligible. It will include their UTME (Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination) number and of course their date of birth.

“Further pieces of information include things like their National Identification Number (NIN), which confirms that they are Nigerians.

“The fund is going to come mostly from Nigerian taxpayers. So, it’s for Nigerians.

“The NINs will help us to verify and qualify them for the loan. Their BVN will also be required.

“This scheme will at some point, be able to empower students so we need to know that they have bank accounts.

“The applicants will also have to provide their admission numbers so that we can firmly establish which institution they are going to because one of the key elements of this is that once we’ve received applications and those applications are approved, the fees or the tuition requirements will be transferred directly to their institutions.

“That in itself has benefits for the institutions. Many students are struggling to pay tuition, their parents are struggling to pay. There’s a very high dropout rate.

“It is one thing to get into a tertiary institution and another to stay there for four or more years. This scheme seeks to help people access and remain in school until they graduate.

“Nigerians are qualified to apply and clearly you know there will be sifting. We are going to highlight those who are mostly in need in the first instance. Education is something that everybody should have a right to.

“The intention of the Act establishing the scheme is to ensure that the reason for one not being able to further his/her education at tertiary level is eliminated.

“The law also seeks to bridge the gap between the desire to study and the capacity to go further.

“This intervention will affect the lives of many Nigerian youths positively. It will impact many Nigerian families because the duty to pay for education falls on parents.”

Explaining further Adedeji said: “This is one of the schemes that we will be applying the Education Tax that we will collect.

“So, this is a way of being accountable to the taxpayer because the essence of Education Tax is to consolidate and restore education integrity and quality.”

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, said in a statement that President Tinubu has directed an expansion of the focus of the Nigeria Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) to include students interested in skill development programmes.

Ngelale added that Tinubu pointed out that it was important for the scheme to be extended to such persons because skill acquisition was as important as obtaining undergraduate and graduate academic qualifications.

Ngelale’s statement reads: “This (loan scheme) is not an exclusive programme. It is catering to all of our young people. Young Nigerians are gifted in different areas.

“This is not only for those who want to be doctors, lawyers, and accountants. It is also for those who aspire to use their skilled and trained hands to build our nation.

“NELFUND has been directed to explore all opportunities to inculcate skill-development programmes because not everybody wants to go through a full university education.

“No matter how economically challenged you are, accredited and qualified students will and must have access to this loan to advance their education in higher institutions.

“There is no compromise in our commitment to the disadvantaged citizens of this nation.”