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Relief as State set to release college, varsity students' funding

 Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich cutting a cake to mark his birthday at Iten School for the deaf. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

Students in universities and colleges will from next week receive up to Sh60,000 as the government unlocks the funding stalemate.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu said the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) has finalised the processing of loans for first-year students in universities and TVETs under the New Higher Education Funding Model.

“Ministry wishes to inform successful applicants that the funds will be disbursed to their respective universities and student accounts starting Tuesday, November 7, 2023,” said Machogu in a press statement dated November 3.

This means that from Tuesday, institutions will also receive money as the State rolls out the new funding plan for higher education.

The Standard has established that a State House meeting this week between President William Ruto’s advisors and Ministry of Education officials and officers from the two higher education funding institutions adopted the revised funding formula.

The revised formula requires all parents with students in universities and colleges to pay various percentages of students’ fees as the government.

The reviewed formula abolishes the categorisation of students as vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy and creates five bands with a boom of between Sh40,000 to Sh60,000, graduated based on households’ financial strength.

This means that if the government sticks to its promise, universities and students will have a major financial reprieve nearly two months after learning started without a monetary boost.

The good news for students however is that they will now get money into their accounts, a major reprieve to the ‘comrades’ who have even staged protests to demand the money.

Sources in the government told The Saturday Standard that the State House meeting approved the revised formula, which now awaits Ruto’s nod.

This means that all students who applied for scholarships and loans have been categorised and will benefit from the stipends under the new funding plan.

The approved model means that students listed under band one will receive 70 per cent scholarships, 25 per cent towards loans and a boom of Sh60,000 to cater for their upkeep. Their parents will pay five per cent of the cost.

Band two students will get 60 per cent scholarships, 30 per cent loans and Sh55,000 for upkeep. Their parents will pay 10 per cent of the cost.

Under band three, students will receive 50 per cent scholarships, 30 per cent loans and a Sh50,000 boom for upkeep. Parents will foot 20 per cent of the cost.

Band four students will receive 40 per cent scholarships, 30 per cent loans and Sh45,000 for upkeep. Parents will shoulder 30 per cent of the cost.

Those placed under band five will receive scholarships of 30 per cent, another 30 per cent for loans and Sh40,000 for upkeep. Households will pay 40 per cent of the cost.

Machogu yesterday advised students to ensure their bank details are accurate.

“Students are advised to ensure that their bank details, as provided in the application for the loans, are correct and up to date,” said Machogu.

Universities had raised concerns over the looming crisis in the management of the institutions and the release of funds for first-year students will be a relief.

The delay in funding left institutions struggling to maintain their day-to-day operations, forcing Vice Chancellors representing various universities to rely on funds allocated for continuing students.

The VCs revealed that they have been relying on funds allocated for continuing students to keep operations running.

“It is chaos…The only reason we are able to continue running operations is the little funds that were sent to universities for continuing students, but if it goes beyond this month we are going to have serious problems,” Kenyatta University VC Paul Wainaina told The Saturday Standard in an interview.

Student leaders weighed in, arguing that the delay affected needy students, who depend on loans provided by the Helb to meet their basic needs, including food and accommodation.

“The new students are struggling and suffering. Some do not have any money for food, others are struggling with accommodation because they expect to use Helb to pay for the accommodation.

We are asking the government to release the funds they are withholding promptly,” Kenyatta University Students Council chairperson Teddy Odhiambo said.

University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama said the delay posed a challenge in the purchase of necessary equipment, testing agents and materials required for technical courses.

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