HELB planning to purchase laptops for university students

According to HELB, out of 700,000 students only 20% have laptops - leaving the rest in crucial need of the gadgets

HELB CEO Charles Ringera

The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) is seeking a Sh22 billion bond to go towards the purchase of laptops for university students.

According to the Board, the government capitation is not enough to cater to the growing number of government-sponsored students since the reduction of university entry grade to C+.

HELB Chief Executive Officer Charles Ringera said the agency is looking to get the money for the laptops to facilitate e-learning for university students.

“Initially we estimated this to be Sh5.5 billion. However, looking at the application of these funds, which is to finance students to acquire laptop loans for purposes of e-learning, we estimate this now at Sh22 billion,” said Helb CEO Charles Ringera.

The agency further said the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has approved the bond which is expected to be issued with for seven-year tenure and that has already received a guarantee from the government.

HELB which has been in the past few months decrying high defaulter rates said despite high allocation by the Treasury from Sh7.5 billion in 2015 to Sh15.2 billion has failed to maintain proper disbursement because of the rising number of enrolled students.

In March 2022, the loaner declared a 100% waiver on defaulters who cleared their loans in full. The agency attributed the defaulting to lack of employment and the Covid-19 pandemic which rendered many jobless making them unable to keep up with the payments.

A similar campaign ran by HELB in 2013 and again in 2018 realised Sh1.3 billion and Sh870 million respectively in loans paid off by defaulters.

Legislators have also been pushing for the extension of the grace period for loan repayments from one year to five years which allows the graduates to be stable and avoid blacklisting with the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB).

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