The Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2024 was approved by the National Assembly on Wednesday.

This follows independent reviews of the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund report by the Senate and the House of Representatives.In a letter sent to the Senate on Thursday, President Bola Tinubu requested the repeal of the current legislation and included a new one that should be signed into law.

This request was made just one day after it was announced that the student loan program, which would have allowed tertiary students to access interest-free loans to finish their studies, would be temporarily suspended.

In order to provide interest-free loans to Nigerian students, Tinubu signed the Student Loan Bill into law in June 2023.

Subsequently, the Senate approved the Student Loans Access to Higher Education Bill 2024 and repealed the Students Loan and Access to Higher Education Act 2023 for a second reading.

Last Thursday was supposed to be the start of the student loan program, but the President decided to make some changes to the bill before it went into effect, and the Senate quickly considered those changes in plenary.

The report was delivered to the plenary by the committee’s chairman, Senator Muntari Dandutse (APC, Katsina South).The bill was referred to the Dandutse committee by Senate President Godswill Akpabio last week for additional legislative work, with a one-week deadline for a report.

An explanatory memorandum provided to reporters stated that President Bola Tinubu intended to amend the Act, among other things by doing away with the requirement of a family income threshold in order to apply for a student loan.

Additionally, it did away with the need for guarantors, allowing students to apply for and be approved for loans based on the Fund’s identity verification and application guidelines.Furthermore, candidates who are students can no longer be rejected on the basis of their parent’s loan history.

A justice and fairness provision was instituted, requiring the board to guarantee a minimum national distribution of loans approved and disbursed for each fiscal year.

Regarding loan repayment, the bill stated that it will start as soon as the beneficiary secures employment of any kind.The brief states that the Fund will not start loan recovery activities until two years after the National Youth Service Corps program is over.

According to the statement, a beneficiary may ask the fund to continue its enforcement action by submitting a sworn affidavit proving that he is unemployed and unpaid.It was made clear that giving a false statement to the Fund in accordance with this section is illegal and carries a three-year prison sentence.

It also provides for loan forgiveness in case of death or unavoidable circumstances that prevent repayment.

One thought on “Assembly Approves Bill on Student Loans and Suggests Jail time for Those who do not Pay”
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