University and Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) students will now be able to receive Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) funds and bursaries through Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform.
This is after Helb and Safaricom inked a deal on Tuesday that will see it become easier for learners to access and utilise the funds.
Helb chief executive officer, Charles Ringera, said the mobile payments solution will ensure that students receive their loans faster.
“We are going to embark on a programme where we shall be confirming whether the mobile numbers given by students belong to them to eliminate fraud,” he said.
Mr Ringera said loan applications are currently open for first year university students and those in TVET institutions.
Students will access the system through Helb USSD by dialling *642#, as well as the mobile app, from where they can view their loan allocations, current balances, statements and make payments.
The platform also grants Helb greater visibility of funds from various sources, and can aggregate, reconcile in realtime and report to its financiers. Continuing students will be able to receive notifications and utilise a financial planning tool on the portal while those who have graduated can track their repayments and generate statements.
Helb also reckons that allowing disbursement by M-Pesa will also promote responsible spending since some of the funds will be locked for specific allocations. For instance, tuition or library fees will only be accessible to the specific Paybill account of the recipient's University or TVET institution.
The student’s upkeep allowance can now also be transferred to the student’s M-Pesa wallet for everyday use.
According to Mr Ringera said, Helb’s gross budget estimate for the financial year 2020/2021 is Sh16.86 billion, which is made up of Sh11.3 billion government capitation and Sh5.5 billion Appropriation in Aid.
He also noted that Helb has put in place strategies to recover loans from past beneficiaries. In the last five years, there has been an increase of recoveries by over 300 per cent, he said.
“HELB recovered over Sh4.4 billion from past beneficiaries and this year we are on course to recover Sh5 billion amidst Covid-19 impact on our loanees.”
The solution will aid HELB to promote responsible spending with the funds locked for specific allocations, such as tuition or library fees only accessible to the specific Paybill account of the recipient's University or TVET institution.
Safaricom Chief Financial Services Officer, Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, said the partnership will go a long way in improving loan accessibility to students.
“We are pleased to support the Higher Education Loans Board to deploy a solution that suits the digital lifestyle of students in tertiary institutions,” he said.