The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) is set to roll out a “smart mobile payment solution for students of tertiary institutions to access and utilise their loans bursaries”.
According to a statement from Safaricom announcing the joint venture, HELB beneficiaries will be able to access loan remittances from the Board through the HELB mobile app as well as the Board’s *642# short code (as at the time of writing this, might change over time).
How is this different from the current system where the Board remits loans every semester directly to the bank accounts of beneficiaries? Well, given how the loans have been misused in the past, the Board is banking on technology not only to enhance the ease of access to the money by students (M-Pesa is, basically, everywhere) but to also provide some transparency and accountability on the part of the students.
“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. The students’ upkeep allowance can now also be transferred into the student’s M-PESA wallet for everyday use,” the statement notes.
“The solution will create efficiencies for all stakeholders by reducing queues during registration as students can now pay through their mobile phones. There will be effective management and monitoring of all loans throughout the loan lifecycle.”
Currently, HELB makes use of mobile money platform M-Pesa, among other channels, to allow past beneficiaries to repay the loan. With the app and the shortcode, the Board is now making it easy for current beneficiaries to access the money.
“HELB disburses over Kshs 15 billion to over 200,000 beneficiaries annually. Part of the loan is usually channelled directly to the learning institution to settle part of the tuition and accommodation fees while the rest is sent to the student for upkeep.”