The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Education Loan Fund, on Thursday night announced that May 24, 2024, was the official date for “the opening of a portal for student loan applications,” a statement signed by the media lead of the Fund, Nasir Ayantogo said.

Ayantogo, in a statement, said the opening of the application portal marks a significant milestone in the commitment of President Bola Tinubu to” fostering accessible and inclusive education for all Nigerian students.”

On June 12, 2023, Tinubu signed the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023, into law to enable indigent students to access interest-free loans for their educational pursuits in any Nigerian tertiary institution.

The move was in “fulfilment of one of his campaign promises to liberalise funding of education,” a member of the then Presidential Strategy Team, Dele Alake, said.

The Act, popularly known as the Students Loan Law, also established the Nigerian Education Loan Fund to process all loan requests, grants, disbursement, and recovery.

Although the government initially announced that the scheme would be launched in September, it suffered several delays, leading to an indefinite postponement in early March.

The Presidency had linked the delay to Tinubu’s directive to expand the scheme to include loans for vocational skills.

After receiving a briefing from the NELFUND team led by the Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu, on January 22, the President directed the Fund to extend interest-free loans to Nigerian students interested in skill-development programmes.

Tinubu based his decision on the need for the scheme to accommodate those who may not want to pursue a university education, noting that skill acquisition is as essential as obtaining undergraduate and graduate academic qualifications.

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“This is not an exclusive programme. It is catering to all of our young people. Young Nigerians are gifted in different areas.

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“This is not only for those who want to be doctors, lawyers, and accountants. It is also for those who aspire to use their skilled and trained hands to build our nation.

“In accordance with this, I have instructed NELFUND to explore all opportunities to inculcate skill-development programmes because not everybody wants to go through a full university education,” he had said.

Through the portal, students can now access loans to pursue their academic aspirations without financial constraints.

The portal, according to the statement, provides a user-friendly interface for students to submit their loan applications conveniently.

“We encourage all eligible students to take advantage of this opportunity to invest in their future and contribute to the growth and development of our nation.

“Students can access the portal on www.nelf.gov.ng to begin application,” the statement said.