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Why University students below 18 will miss Helb loans

Students below 18 years will not get university loans after Kiharu MP Irung’u Kang’ata said he would not make changes to a Bill that the President refused to assent to.

Mr Kang’ata said he would not pursue a Bill that would have offered the loans to the underage because it will be difficult to raise the two-thirds majority required to override the President.

“I agree with President Uhuru Kenyatta. I have done my best and students should also take up the matter,” the lawmaker said in an interview on Wednesday.

The Bill proposed that two students sit on the Helb board. It also said that all underage students who join universities should get government loans.

Higher Education Loans Board would be required to give reasons for not awarding a new student a loan, if the Bill became law.

FREE TO APPEAL

Students who fail to get a loan would also be free to appeal.

“They should not just be dismissed. These students have serious financial problems and that is why they apply for loans,” he said.

President Kenyatta sent the Higher Education Loans Board Bill back to the House.

He said its sustainability would require massive finance from the National Treasury.

The President also sought the removal of a clause that allowed graduates who fail to secure employment a year after completing studies to notify the board to avoid penalties on defaulters.

Mr Kang’ata said he would introduce an amendment after six months allowing those under 18 to qualify for loans.

“It is unfair to discriminate on the basis of age,” he said.

INCREASED BUDGET

The Treasury has increased Helb’s budget by Sh1.8 billion for the current financial year.

The government set aside Sh7.5 billion for the 2015/16 financial year to sponsor students in universities, up from Sh5.7 billion.

Helb recently said it needed more than Sh10 billion to fund students.

The Bill also proposed to oblige the board to notify applicants upon processing of their loan requests and to allow appeal for additional funds where necessary.