All parents to pay university fees as changes made to funding formula

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

All parents with students in universities and colleges will have to pay fees as the government reviewed the new funding formula months after it was unveiled.

Contrary to the initial plan of lifting the burden from parents deemed incapable of financing their children’s higher education, all households will now foot part of the fees.

The Standard has established that the new funding formula has been altered a little to factor in scholarships, tuition fees, household contribution and upkeep for students.

It also emerged that the four students’ categories of vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy as were proposed under the new formula, have been expanded to five and renamed ‘bands.’

In the reviewed formula, all students listed in the five bands will get a boom of between Sh40,000 to Sh60,000, graduated based on households’ financial strength.

But by last evening, it emerged that all households will shoulder part of their children’s education cost, a marked departure from the initial plan.

The Standard established that the review was necessary as questions emerged over sustainability of the proposed formula unveiled by president William Ruto.

Under the initial plan, the ‘vulnerable and extremely needy’ were exempted from any household costs as the government planned to cater for all the bills.

Only the ‘needy and less needy’ were to pay seven per cent towards university education with graduated percentages on scholarships and loans. This meant that students under ‘vulnerable’ category were to get 82 per cent in scholarships and 18 per cent loans with zero per cent from households.

The ‘extremely needy’ were to get 70 per cent in scholarships and 30 per cent loans and were not required to pay anything out of pocket.

Those categorised as ‘needy’ were to receive government scholarships of up to 53 per cent and loans of up to 40 per cent with their households paying seven per cent of the cost.

While those categorised as ‘less needy’ will get government scholarships of up to 38 per cent and loans of up to 55 per cent with their households paying seven per cent of the cost.

Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) chief executive Charles Ringera said that under band one, (previously called vulnerable), students will receive 70 per cent scholarships and 25 per cent towards loans. Parents in these households will now pay five per cent of the fees cost.

Ringera said that students will also be given a boom of Sh60,000 to cater for their upkeep.

“This upkeep money will cater for meals, accommodation, books and stationery,” said Ringera.

Under category two, (previously extremely needy), students will get 60 per cent scholarships and 30 per cent loans. Parents will pay 10 per cent of the cost. The government will allocate each student in this category some Sh55,000 for upkeep.

For one academic year, about Sh15 billion is projected to be spent on scholarships. [iStockphoto]

And under band three, (previously needy), students will receive 50 per cent scholarships and 30 per cent loans. Parents will foot 20 per cent of the cost and the students here will receive Sh50,000 upkeep money.

Band four

Band four students are those who were previously named ‘less needy.’ These students will now receive 40 per cent scholarships and 30 per cent loans. Parents will shoulder 30 per cent of the cost and their children will get Sh45,000 for upkeep.

The new category introduced will now be called band five and will receive scholarships of 30 per cent and another 30 per cent for loans. Households will pay 40 per cent of the cost and students in this group will receive Sh40,000 for upkeep.

The details emerged as concern mounted over sustainability of the new funding plan as initially crafted.

Sources told the Standard that the initial funding plan ‘may be too costly in the long run’.

“You see the amount of money required is too much and in the next five or 10 years to come, it may not be sustainable,” said a well-placed Ministry of Education official.

The insider said senior ministry officials and staff from the two funding institutions have been burning midnight oil to unlock the funding stalemate.

“Officers have been leaving Jogoo House offices late in the night, working tirelessly to unlock the funding plan,” said the insider.

By Tuesday, some 116,532 university students and another 126,825 TVET students had submitted their applications for scholarships and loans.

Sources within government were however split on whether the two higher education funding institutions had completed categorisation of students to clear way for release of the money.

HELB and the Universities Fund (UF) sources told The Standard that categorisation of students is complete, with verification and categorisation of some 220,000 students already done. “We have done about 109,000 for universities and another 111,000 for TVETS,” said Ringera.

Details further reveal that respective boards of Helb and UF must also meet to approve release of the cash meant for loans and scholarships. It was not clear when universities and colleges would finally receive the money.

The details emerged as public universities and colleges are quietly managing a deep financial crisis due to delayed funding by the State.

Vice Chancellors (VCs) who spoke to The Standard said they are managing crisis in the institutions, more than a month since they admitted thousands of students without a shilling.

Continuing students

VCs Committee chairperson Daniel Mugendi said most universities are now spending cash meant for continuing students to support first year’s budgets, whose money is yet to hit universities and colleges accounts.

All students listed in the five bands will get a boom of between Sh40,000 to Sh60,000. [iStockphoto]

Fingers were however pointed at the National Treasury even as reports also emerged that the wait for cash may be longer until the Supplementary budget is approved.

Universities were to be allocated Sh39 billion to cater for both continuing and new students.

About two weeks ago, Helb released about Sh12.5 billion after continuing students staged protests over delayed release of their money.

This means that the State is yet to disburse the remaining balance to cater for the new students. Another Sh7.5 billion will also be needed to cater for new students’ scholarships under the new funding plan.

Cumulatively, for one academic year, about Sh15 billion is projected to be spent on scholarships.

Prof Mugendi said that in some universities, September salaries are yet to be paid as it emerged that the institutions combine two monthly capitation allocations for the continuing students to settle monthly wages. The University of Embu VC said that most institutions are now waiting for the October capitation allocation for continuing students to pay September salaries.

“It has been a challenge but because we know what the government is doing, we are trying to manage ourselves so that we allow them time to complete the funding process,” said Prof Mugendi.

He said that most VCs had anticipated to get first year students funding by September but this has been delayed.

“We are now hoping that the money shall be wired to universities by this week or next week,” he said.

Prof Mugendi said that available information shows that verification of students’ applications ought to have been completed by September 7.

“This means that they (Helb and UF) needed one week for categorisation of students which was to end around October 10. After that they needed another one week for validation which was to be last week Friday,” said Prof Mugendi.

He added: “Based on these projections, we expected money to be wired in institution’s accounts this week but it seems that this may happen next week of in November.”

“Meanwhile, we are suffering because some universities have not even paid September salaries as we speak. But we trust God because we are aware of efforts being put in place to support students’ education,” said Prof Mugendi.