The Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) has reported over 9.5 million visits to its portal and more than 6000 loan applications from students in federal tertiary institutions since its launch last Friday.

Managing Director Akintunde Sawyerr, during a post-application launch conference on Thursday, revealed that over 90% of federal tertiary institutions have submitted their students’ data, with only five institutions remaining. Sawyerr announced that in response to demands from students in state-owned tertiary institutions, the fund will open its portal for their applications within three weeks. He urged state institution authorities to submit their students’ data to ensure a smooth process.

The Access to Higher Education Act, 2023, signed into law by President Bola Tinubu on June 12, 2023, enables indigent students to access interest-free loans for their education in any Nigerian tertiary institution. This initiative, fulfilling one of Tinubu’s campaign promises, established NELFUND to manage loan requests, grants, disbursements, and recoveries.

The scheme, initially set to launch in September, faced delays and was postponed indefinitely in March. The Presidency attributed the delay to Tinubu’s directive to expand the scheme to include vocational skill loans. Following a briefing from the NELFUND team led by the Minister of State for Education, Dr. Yusuf Sununu, Tinubu directed the fund to extend loans to students interested in skill-development programs, emphasizing the importance of accommodating those who prefer skill acquisition over traditional university education.

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