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Amend student loan act, make it available for all students — NANS tells Reps

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The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has urged the House of Representatives to amend the Student Loan Act to accommodate all Nigerian students who desire loans.

Usman Barambu, NANS president made the call at a legislative summit on student loan and access to higher education, organised by the house ad hoc committee in Abuja.

Mr Barambu said the requirements for accessing loans in the act were too stringent, adding that the method of payment of two years was too short and instead should be either four or five years.

Mr Barambu said there was a need to look at the list of guarantors, adding that most students would not be able to meet the guarantors’ requirement.

“Student loans are for us yet on the board there is no student representation. The board only captured NUC sidelining the polytechnic and colleges of education, which should all be included for fairness and equity,” Mr Barambu explained. “The method of payment should be looked into as most students will not be able to find their ground financially two years after graduation, therefore, it should be revised to four to five years.”

Mr Barambu noted that the act also “gives no room for forgiveness in cases of death especially for security officers, that should also be looked into.”

JAMB registrar Is-haq Oloyede said the act represented a turning point in the history of higher education in Nigeria, in the 21st century.

Mr Oloyede urged the lawmakers on the feasibility of the loan covering other areas, while calling for the need to review the act to cover the cost of other things beyond tuition fees. He said students now pay more for accommodation, feeding and transportation.

The JAMB boss also called for the development of a conducive environment for the repayment of the loan even as he noted that the act should be calibrated to factor in market instability, inflation, pandemics, etc.

He said the loan should not be one amount at all times adding that guarantees should be inserted so that it will be above inflation.

Mr Oloyede, however, urged the parliament to develop an accountability framework for the loan and called for measures that would guarantee its sustainability.

Federal Inland Revenue Service chair Muhammad Nami said FIRS was committed to working with the parliament on the student loans project.

Mr Nami said as soon as the mandate was given, the funding would be made available, but expressed concern about the one per cent from the federal government revenue meant for the loan.

Mr Nami suggested that instead of federal allocation only the parliament should seek amendments that would allow the funding to be drawn from a federation account where all states can contribute too.

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