How government will pay university fees under new funding model

Universities Fund chief executive Geoffrey Monari during the interview at Spice FM.

The government will this year abandon the funding of all students who score C+ plus and above in KCSE exams.

Instead, students will be required to apply to the government to request support to pay their fees.

Upon applying, students' fees will be paid through a government scholarship, a loan and direct fees paid by parents.

The model was announced by President William Ruto in May and will benefit over 140,000 students who sat the 2022 KCSE exams and scored Grade C+ and above.

Universities Fund chief executive Geoffrey Monari indicated that students from the poorest households will not pay any fees during their university stay.

Instead, they will get a scholarship and a small loan payable after they graduate.

"We have noticed when someone is vulnerable even after graduation, the level of dependency is still high among family and friends so we will provide a small loan and the bigger chunk of their fees will be paid through a scholarship," Monari said.

On the flipside, students from wealthier families will get a huge loan-repayable after graduation- the remaining fraction of their fees will be paid through scholarships and direct fees by parents.

The students will apply for funding through a newly launched website

Once they have applied, Monari said that respective universities will be able to check how much the student is entitled to in loans and scholarships and the amount they will be required to pay out of pocket.

The students will also download a letter from the funding website which they will carry during their admission.

"What we are bringing in is equity, previously we funded students based on equality. Which meant that all of them were being given a grant whether you like it or not from the Universities fund and that meant that even if your family was able to pay, the grant is equal," Monari said.

The funding model will only be used for students who sat the 2022 KCSE exams.

Under the model, students joining university will be classified depending on the level of financial support they need.

The classes are vulnerable- who come from the poorest background; then there is the extremely needy who are the second neediest in the funding classification.

The third and fourth classes are needy and less needy respectively. These two categories need little to no support in paying their fees.

The government will decide where each student falls in either of the four categories. Monari explained that four factors will determine where the student is classified.

He explained that the family economic background, that is the poverty probability index will be a factor to be considered.

"Let's say if you come from Naivasha we go back to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics to look at how well-endowed are people from that area," he indicated.

The second factor is affirmative action, that is, people living with disability, orphans, and from marginalised areas.

The other parameter is the social democratic data, which is family size and marital status.

This includes whether the student is from a divorced family, or a single parenthood or does the student have both parents," he said.

Also, the family income and expenditure will be considered.

"If a student has siblings who are also in school more so university, it will influence where they will be classified and how much money the government will provide for their education," he expounded.

Other parameters include the school the student attended for secondary and primary education whether private or public; and if they were sponsored through their education.

"Being in a private school is just one of the parameters but it is not an eventuality to determine where you will be classified under the new funding model," Monari said.

Even so, Monari said that the government will do due diligence to verify data provided by the students to ascertain the accuracy.

However, students will have a chance to appeal their classification should their level of need change.

"Say if a student status changes and they need more support from the government or if the student status changes and they need less assistance we have provided for an appeals process that the student can apply to," Monari said.

However, students in second, third, and subsequent years in university will not be beneficiaries of the system.

Monari said that the government will need all Members of Parliament to declare the bursary awarded to students through CDF so that they can reduce the loan burden on the student.

He noted that the government this financial year increased Sh20 billion to the Higher Education Loans Board to facilitate the funding changes.

The university funding board has been allocated Sh15.9 billion for this model.

Students who go to private universities however will only get loans but will be exempted from the scholarships.