On Monday, June 12, 2023, the President, Bola Tinubu, signed into law the Student Law Bill. The bill, which will enable Nigerian students to have access to interest-free loans, was introduced by the outgoing speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The PUNCH reported that the piece of legislation passed second reading at the lower house on May 23, 2023.

With the establishment of an education bank, tertiary institutions owned by the Federal Government may now be at liberty to introduce tuition fees, experts in the higher education sector have argued.

Already, some universities owned by the Federal Government have started announcing an increase in tuition fees. For instance, The PUNCH in December 2022 exclusively reported how some Federal Government-owned universities announced a 200 per cent hike in fees. It is believed that the introduction of the education bank will help address the funding gap in tertiary institutions.

According to the bill, which was sighted by our correspondent on Monday, students applying for loans under this Act must apply to the Chairman of the Bank through their respective institutions upon satisfying of the following conditions:

i. Student must have secured admission into any public Nigerian University, Polytechnic, college of education or any TVET school; Applicant income or family income must be less than N500,000 per annum; Applicant must provide at least two civil servants as guarantors: of not less than level 12 years in service; or a Lawyer with at least 10 years post-call experience; a Judicial officer; or a Justice of Peace.

ii. Students who have defaulted on previous loans; found guilty of exam malpractice, felony, or drug offences will not be considered.

iii. Students with parents who have defaulted in respect of previous loans will not be considered.

Following the satisfaction of the conditions listed above, applications for the loans will be submitted through the Students Affairs Office of each institution via a list of all qualified applicants from the institution accompanied by a cover letter signed by the Vice-Chancellor or Rector or the head of the institution and the Student Affairs.

On the repayment, the act states that “Any beneficiary of the loan to which this Act refers shall commence repayment two years after completion of the National Youth Service Corps programme. Repayment shall be by direct deduction of 10 per cent of the beneficiary’s salary at source by the employer.

“Where the beneficiary is self-employed, he shall remit 10 per cent of his total profit monthly to the student loan account to be prescribed by the bank.

“For the purpose of sub-section 3 above, a self-employed person shall, within 60 days of assuming that status, submit all information such as the name of business, address and location, registration documents, registered, name of bankers, names of partners, name of directors and shareholders to the Commission.

“Anyone in default of the provisions of sub-section 4 above or found to be aiding the default of any of the provisions of this Act is guilty of an offence and, if convicted, shall be liable to imprisonment for two years or a fine of N500,000 or both.”

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