FG To Fund Student Loan Scheme Through Education Tax – FIRS Chairman

The Nigerian Government has announced that the Student Loan Scheme will be financed through the Education Tax Fund, managed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

FIRS Chairman, Zacch Adedeji, disclosed this during a briefing at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, accompanied by the Executive Secretary of the Board, Dr. Akintunde Sawyerr.

Adedeji highlighted that utilizing the Education Tax Fund for the scheme is a measure to enhance government accountability to taxpayers. Sawyerr assured that the application process for the loan would be automated, ensuring minimal human intervention through a dedicated app.

Emphasizing the government’s commitment to overcoming financial barriers to tertiary education, Sawyerr stressed that the student loan scheme aims to empower young Nigerians to pursue their chosen career paths without financial constraints. He also pointed out that this initiative intends to discourage risky journeys by Nigerian youths seeking better opportunities in Europe.

Sawyerr clarified that the loan disbursements would directly cover school fees, and while the opportunity is open to all Nigerians, priority would be given to the most financially disadvantaged applicants. This approach aims to facilitate access to education and reduce the need for individuals to compromise their career choices due to financial limitations.

Sawyerr said, “It’s a pleasure to be here today to brief you on the impending launch of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund, which is the bedrock that will operationalize the student loan scheme in Nigeria. It’s a great opportunity to help solve an age-old problem that has been on in this dear nation of ours for quite some time.

“There are many, many people with great capacity and with the desire to improve their education. And usually the place where that falls down is when they get into the tertiary base. At that point they really have a number of options, either to go into the world of work with qualifications that are not necessarily optimal for them or to find ways of funding that tertiary space.

“When I say tertiary, some of it is academic. So university education is generally regarded as academic but this programme seeks to provide opportunities for Nigerian students who want to go into the academic side and get a university degree or perhaps want to go into the technical side and go and acquire some vocational skills and some vocational qualifications which is always needed in society, and also in the teacher training space. Because you know, without teachers, really none of us are going very far. We have to learn from others and we have to have teachers.

“So, this is a great opportunity for that applicant, and they are the ones that are at the center of all of this. This act, effectively the intention behind it is to ensure that the reason for not being able to go on and further your education at a tertiary level, is not for the lack of finance.

“This law seeks to bridge the gap between the desire to study and the capacity to go further. It seeks to bridge that gap that is created by lack of finance, lack of funding.”

He added, “I want to say to you that this has been done with a lot of thought. So in application and in applying for this loan, there is zero human intervention. In other words, there is an app. The applicant will go on to a portal, they will engage with that app.

“They will have to put in certain pieces of information which made them eligible, that is their JAMB number, and of course the tie-in to their date of birth. Further pieces of information include things like their national identity number, NIN, which confirms that they are Nigerians.

“This loan scheme is being paid for by Nigerian tax payers. So it’s for Nigerians and the NIN helps verify and qualify them as such.

“Their BVN is needed for financial inclusion because this scheme will at some point be able to empower students. So we need to know they have bank accounts. We need to know where their accounts are, to be able to access those accounts.

“It will also have their matric number, admission number so that we can firmly establishment which institution they are going because one of the key elements of this is that once we’ve received applications and those applications are approved, the fees or the tuition requirements in terms of financials will be transferred directly to the institution.

“That in itself has benefits for the institution. Many many students are struggling to pay their fees, their parents are struggling to pay their fees. There’s a very high dropout rate. So it’s one thing to get into the tertiary institution. It’s another thing to stay there for four years or for three years. This scheme seeks to help people access and remain until they qualify or graduate.”

Explaining further, Adedeji said, “This is in fulfillment of Mr President’s promise that we will make education accessible to all. And while I have to put my own is because of the source of funding. This is one of the schemes that we will apply Education Tax that we will collect. So, this is a way of being accountable to the taxpayer because the essence of Education Tax is to consolidate and restore education integrity and quality.

“And in fulfilling that part of the Act, so, that is why Education Tax Fund is one of the sources of funding, by God’s grace, that we’ll use actually to execute this laudable programme.”