Student loan applications hit 6,000 in one week, says NELFUND

The Nigerian education loan fund (NELFUND) said it had had over 9.5 million visits, with over 6,000 applications for loans from students in federal tertiary institutions since it opened its portal last Friday.

The Managing Director of the fund, Akintunde Sawyerr, while briefing the press at a post-application launch conference on Thursday, said over 90 per cent of federal tertiary institutions have submitted the data of their students with about five institutions remaining.

He also revealed that in three weeks, the fund would democratise the loans following the outcry from students in state-owned tertiary institutions, thereby opening its portal for students in state institutions to apply for the loan.

Sawyerr urged the authorities of the state tertiary institutions to begin to submit the data of its students to ensure that the process is seamless.

On June 12, 2023, President Bola Tinubu signed the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023 into law to enable indigent students to access interest-free loans for their educational pursuits in any Nigerian tertiary institution.

The move was in “fulfilment of one of his campaign promises to liberalise funding of education,” a member of the then Presidential Strategy Team, Dele Alake, said.

The Act, popularly known as the Students Loan Law, also established the Nigerian Education Loan Fund to process all loan requests, grants, disbursement, and recovery.

Although the government initially announced that the scheme would be launched in September, it suffered several delays leading to an indefinite postponement in early March.

The Presidency had linked the delay to Tinubu’s directive to expand the scheme to include loans for vocational skills.

After receiving a briefing from the NELFUND team led by the Minister of State for Education, Yusuf Sununu, on January 22, the president directed the Fund to extend interest-free loans to Nigerian students interested in skill-development programmes.

Tinubu based his decision on the need for the scheme to accommodate those who may not want to pursue a university education, noting that skill acquisition is as essential as obtaining undergraduate and graduate academic qualifications.

“This 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.

“In accordance with this, I have instructed NELFUND to explore all opportunities to inculcate skill-development programmes because not everybody wants to go through a full university education,” he said.