Revealed: How your child will be selected for varsity funding

Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) CEO Charles Ringera. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

It is now emerging that the primary and secondary school your child attended and your family size will be among the key factors that determine whether they will get a State scholarship.

A government report seen by The Standard shows that the number of siblings a student has if they are attending secondary, primary, or tertiary education will also decide the student’s financial ability and the extent of support needed.

The course they will choose to pursue in the university will also be checked among eight key parameters that will decide which students get government scholarships and loans.

Additionally, the State will also look at factors like whether the student is an orphan, comes from a home with a single parent, or whether they have both parents.

These pointers will be used by the Universities Fund and the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) when determining the nature of help students will qualify for.

These parameters will be used in September this year and will determine the financial package of the 173,000 students who sat for the 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) and qualified to join the university.

Income perspective

The other criteria, it emerged, will include disability, marginalisation, course type, and gender. However, the system is not new. Helb Chief Executive Charles Ringera said this criterion has been in use for nearly 30 years to decide those who receive student loans.

“It is based on the scientific set-up of our population today from an income perspective and we don’t expect this to be any different when we ask for the details of those applying for grants or scholarships,” Ringera said.

He spoke while appearing on a Citizen TV interview on Tuesday morning.

Ringera explained that each of the classes the student falls in each of the parameters will give a cumulative score to the level of need the student is experiencing and consequently the financial aid the student will receive.

He explained the students will be classified into four categories reflecting their level of need.

The system, Ringera noted, is known as a means and testing instrument and are indicators that will properly identify the neediest of students to get government scholarships.

It will also be maintained for the loans for those who don’t qualify for scholarships.

Ringera confirmed that under the new funding model, students in the needy and less needy categories partaking Bachelor of Medicine courses will access loans of about Sh2.1 million over the whole course period of six years.

He further reaffirmed that students who will be admitted to private universities will be able to get student loans to support their studies if they qualify. “What people don’t know is that even at the moment, some 150,000 students who received Helb loans are from private universities,” he said.

National Treasury

University Fund Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Monari said the new funding model will cater for 140,000 students.

“The extra Sh30 billion is going to Helb as loans to students. As for grants, we have Sh15 billion, out of which the National Treasury has already allocated Sh5.9 billion,” he said.

The new funding model will also see an increase in government allocations to Helb to Sh31.6 billion. President William Ruto last week announced that the government will fully fund the vulnerable and extremely needy students who comprise 29 per cent of the students joining university and TVETs this year.

The funding will be through government scholarships, loans and bursaries.

The plan is to integrate all existing funding schemes such as scholarships and bursaries — under a single authority and provide one set of eligibility criteria applied across the board.

The State has also restricted universities from increasing fees for students without consent from the government.

The changes will mean that universities will no longer operate self-sponsored degree courses.

Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service Chief Executive Dr Mercy Wahome indicated that the government will continue to place all students who attain the university cut-off mark.