Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) beneficiaries may breathe a sign of relief if the proposals from the newly launched Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) are passed.
According to the report that was presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, October 21, at Kisii State Lodge, the document seeks to amend the Higher Education Loans Board Act, 1995 that gave the students a window period of one year after completion of studies.
The report has proposed that the grace period given to the beneficiaries before they are expected to make payments be extended to four years from the date of completing their studies.
“The amendment seeks to give loanees a grace period of four years from the date of completion of their studies. After this, they can commence repayment of loans advanced to them.
“Further, it amends the Act to exempt loanees without a source of income, upon application to the Board, from paying interest on the loans advanced to them, till such time when the loanees shall start earning an income,” read the statement in part.
This comes amid numerous complains from the fund beneficiaries who have come have severally protested the conditions terming it as punitive terms.
In 2019, Helb threatened to publish the photos of defaulters in daily newspapers in move that angered the beneficiaries.
“Please take note the names and pictures of HELB loan beneficiaries who have defaulted repayment of the loan from 1975 to date shall be published in the leading newspapers,” read a notice from the body at the time.
HELB also noted that the funds received from loan repayment were used to support the current needy students, therefore, ‘sustained default hinders funding of other deserving Kenyan youth.”
In retaliation, some desperate defaulters dared the loans board to go ahead and publish their photos and names in the dailies.
They argued that unemployment in the country was on the rise and made it difficult for them to consistently remit the charge on a monthly basis.