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Nigerian Student Loan Program Launches Friday, Benefiting 1.2 Million Students in Federal Institutions

Although the government initially planned to launch the scheme in September, delays ensued due to an expansion directive from President Tinubu to include vocational skills loans.

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On Monday Akintunde Sawyerr, Managing Director and CEO of the Nigeria Education Loan Fund announced that all is set for the take-off of the long-anticipated student loan program.

Speaking at a pre-application press conference in Abuja, Sawyerr revealed that this first phase which will launch on Friday will reach 1.2 million students across federal tertiary institutions in Nigeria. He said this first phase will benefit students from federal universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, and technical colleges.

President Bola Tinubu signed the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2024, into law on April 3. This new law, which repeals the previous 2023 Act, establishes the Nigerian Education Loan Fund as a corporate body tasked with receiving, managing, and investing funds to provide loans for higher education, vocational training, and skills acquisition to Nigerians.

This Act empowers the Nigeria Education Loan Fund to offer loans to qualified students to cover tuition, fees, and living expenses during their studies at approved public tertiary institutions and vocational training centers. Notably, the new law removes the family income threshold, allowing students to apply for loans and take responsibility for repayment.

Although the government initially planned to launch the scheme in September, delays ensued due to an expansion directive from President Tinubu to include vocational skills loans. The Nigerian Education Loan Fund has now announced that the portal for loan applications will open on May 24.

Sawyerr explained that only students whose institutions have uploaded their data on the Fund’s dashboard will be eligible to apply. He urged students in federal tertiary institutions to visit www.nelf.gov.ng to apply, while those in state universities and vocational skills centers will be able to apply at a later date. Application requirements include an admission letter from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, National Identity Number, and Bank Verification Number, along with completed forms from the website.

“The loan application process has been streamlined to ensure easy access for all eligible students in federal tertiary institutions. Applicants can access online support for any questions or concerns during the application process. We believe that education is a vital investment for the future. We envisage that the student loan initiative of Mr. President is a testament to this commitment.

“The fees for the institution will be paid directly to the institution, not to the students, and will cover a maximum of one session at a time to account for possible changes in enrollment status,” Sawyerr said.

Data from the National Universities Commission indicates that Nigeria has 226 federal tertiary institutions, including 62 universities, 41 polytechnics, 96 mono-technics, and 27 colleges of education.

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