THE Higher Education Loan and Scholarships Board (HELSB) has clarified that even students who obtained loans from the Loans Board but failed in their studies are required to pay back the loans.
The clarification by the Loans Board follows concerns from some former students that despite having failed to complete their studies, the HELSB is still deducting loans from their salaries.
However, HELSB Corporate Communication Officer Chiselwa Kawanda clarified that all students who obtained loans from the board are required to pay back the loans.
Ms Kawanda in an interview with ZANIS, yesterday, said the former students have to pay back the loans because Government spent money on the short period that they had stayed in school.
Government had to pay for their tuition fees, accommodation and meal allowances when they got admitted into the university hence the need for them to repay the loans, she said.
“We didn’t give them a loan so that they could go and fail. These loans have conditions, the beneficiaries have to pay back whether they spent one month or a year in the university,” the HELSB Corporate Communication Officer said.
Ms Kawanda, however, clarified that the students are only supposed to repay what was spent on them during the period they spent in the university.
In cases where students leave the university but the institution still maintains them on the loans list, then HELSB has to engage management.
Ms Kawanda said if a student is maintained on the loans list, the board still continues to pay the fees to the university.
“So in this case, such students can come to our office and the Loans Board has to recover the loan from the university,” she said.
Ms Kawanda, however, expressed happiness that most of the former students who benefited from the loans are willing to repay them back.
She said HELSB has also started engaging employers to help them recover the loans from the former students.
Ms Kawanda said the challenge sometimes is in locating the students using a National Registration Card because some people tend to have similar card numbers. She said tracing the students is also very difficult especially if they have changed their place of work.
The HELSB started making the deduction in 2018 from students who were enrolled into universities in 2004.
Even those students that benefited from what they were calling grants in the 1980 and some years back can contribute a token to the loans board so that more vulnerable children can benefit from the scheme.