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Why Student Loan Act 2023 was amended — Presidency

President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, signed into law the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2024 aimed at removing some of…

President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, signed into law the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2024 aimed at removing some of the bottlenecks embedded in the 2023 version of the act.

 Presidential spokesman Ajuri Ngelale who gave the explanation yesterday on why the loan act was amended said the “Act effectively removes the previous encumbrances found in the first iteration of the Act, by ensuring that citizens have the means to fund their education, acquire critical skills, and become productive contributors to national development.”

 Ngelale explained that the repealed Student Loan Act, 2023, had some challenges bordering on “Governance and management, purpose of the loans, eligibility criteria for applicants, method of application, repayment provisions, and recovery of the loans.”

 Speaking specifically on the changes made to the eligibility criteria for applicants interested in the loan, the presidential spokesman said the amended version “Removes the family income threshold so Nigerian students can apply for these loans and accept responsibility for repayment according to the Fund’s guidelines”, and the guarantor requirement so that students can apply for and receive loans subject to application and identity verification guidelines as provided by the Fund.

 He also said student applicants can no longer be disqualified based on their parent’s loan history, as the act establishes a justice and fairness provision mandating the Board to ensure a minimum national spread of loans approved and disbursed in each financial year.

 According to him, “Applicants to the Fund may apply for loans to cover tuition and other fees payable to the school and maintenance allowance payable to the student.”

 On the recovery of loan, “The Fund shall not initiate loan recovery efforts until two years after the completion of the National Youth Service Programme.

 “A beneficiary may request an extension of enforcement action by the Fund by providing a sworn affidavit indicating that he/she is not employed in any capacity and is not receiving any income. Only a person who provides a false statement to the Fund under this section is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years,” he said.

 The amendment also establishes the Nigeria Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) as a body corporate that can sue and be sued in its name and has the power to acquire, hold, and dispose of movable and immovable property for the purpose of its functions.

 “This ensures that the Fund can legally enter contracts, including loan agreements, and may also initiate action to ensure repayment by beneficiaries.”

 

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