The Students Loan Bill which was recently passed by the National Assembly has recommended a two years imprisonment or N500, 000 or both for students who default in repayment or anyone found aiding defaulters.
As part of efforts geared towards addressing funding challenges in the country’s tertiary institutions of learning, the National Assembly recently passed the Student Loan Bill, which has faced much criticism, into law.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, cautioned against the condemnation of the Student Loan Bank being proposed through the Student Loan Bill.
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The bill, which was sponsored by Gbajabiamila, was titled ‘A Bill for an Act to provide for easy access to higher education for Nigerians through an interest-free loan from the Nigerian Education Bank established in this Act to provide education for Nigerians and other purposes connected thereto.’
The bill seeks the establishment of the Nigerian Education Bank, which will have the powers to administer, coordinate, supervise and monitor the management of student loans in the country.
It will also receive applications for student loans through higher institutions in Nigeria on behalf of the applicants and screen the applications to ensure that all requirements for the grant of such loans under the Act are satisfied.
Also, the bank shall have the powers to approve and disburse to qualified applicants and ensure compliance in respect of disbursement, and monitor academic records of grantees to obtain information on their year of graduation, national service, and employment to ensure that grantees of the loan commence repayment as at when due, among other functions.
According to the Act, all students seeking higher education in public institutions of higher learning in Nigeria shall have an equal right to access the loan without any discrimination arising from gender, religion, tribe, position or disability.
On the repayment plan, the bill recommends that
“Any beneficiary of the loan to which this Act refers shall commence repayment two years after completion of the National Youth Service Corps programme.”
It also recommended that repayment shall be by direct deduction of 10 per cent of the beneficiaries’ salary at source by the employer and credited to the students’ loan account to be prescribed by the bank.
“Where the beneficiary is self-employed, he shall remit 10% of his total profit monthly to the student loan account to be prescribed by the bank.
“For the purpose of sub-section 3 above, a self-employed person shall, within 60 days of assuming that status, submit all information such as the name of business, address and location, registration documents, registered, name of bankers, names of partners, name of directors and shareholders to the Commission.
“Anyone in default of the provisions of sub-section 4 above or found to be aiding the default of any of the provisions of this Act is guilty of an offence and if convicted shall be liable to imprisonment for two years or a fine of N500,000 or both.”
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