Federal Government speaks on how student loan can be accessed

Federal Government’s student loan plan will be easy to apply for, according to officials. They said there will be no human contact and that everything will be automated.

Dr. Akintunde Sawyerr, the Students Loan Board’s executive secretary and chief executive officer, told the press at the Aso Villa following his meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu that money for qualifying students would be deposited into their school accounts.

The programme has been expanded to include young Nigerians who wish to learn skills outside of tertiary education. Sawyerr spoke to reporters along with the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Dr Zacch Adedeji.

Dr. Adedeji stated that the education tax is a significant source of funding for the loan scheme, which is why he attended yesterday’s meeting with the president.

According to Sawyerr, the loan programme will allow each applicant to choose their own career path instead of being pressured to do something different due to insufficient funding for the necessary schooling.

He thinks the initiative will lessen the risk that young people from Nigeria take when travelling across the Sahel to Europe in quest 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. 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 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 is 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.”