The two chambers of the National Assembly, on Wednesday, passed the Students Loan Bill, which would enable students in higher institutions of learning to gain more access to financial assistance.
The bill, which was sponsored by the House of Representatives speaker, Femi 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 with a view to providing education for Nigerians and for 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.
The House of Representatives had earlier this year passed the bill and forwarded it to the Senate for concurrence. With the Senate’s concurrence, a copy would be produced and transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent. Once it is signed into law, Nigerians will begin accessing the loans.