Student loan defaulters to spend 6 months in jail

KAMPALA. Students who fail to repay the money loaned to them under the Uganda Students’ Higher Education Financing Scheme face six months in jail.According to the law, students will be given one year grace period after completing their studies before they can start to repay. Failure to adhere to that, they will be guilty of an offence and liable of conviction to a fine not exceeding 50 currency points (Shs1m) or imprisonment of six months.

Mr Michael Wanyama, the loan scheme coordinator, confirmed the developments in an interview with the Daily Monitor, but added that it is only a disciplinary measure, which doesn’t exonerate an individual who has defaulted after serving the jail term.

“This doesn’t clear you. When you are released, you will be required to repay the money,” Mr Wanyama said.Education Minister Jessica Alupo said the scheme will be launched in three weeks’ time from now after they have instituted a board which will comprise of nine members.

“We are ready to give out money this year and students can start to apply for the loans immediately the President launches the scheme in about three weeks,” she said.

On the issue of unemployment, Mr Wanyama said: “We cannot run away from unemployment because it is a world problem. We are not going to work in isolation with government agencies.”

Government allocated Shs5 billion to start the scheme. The government has put the average unit cost of the courses between Shs2 million and Shs4 million per annum across all public universities and chartered private universities.Successful candidates will be required to sign an agreement with government before they are given the loan. The scheme will pilot with 1, 000 students but the number is expected to increase to 5, 000 by 201516.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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