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Education Board News Flash 4 – 2019

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Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) and Related Schemes

Education Board of Africa Federation has put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for students who wish to apply for a loan through the HELP scheme. This document will take you through the application process; provide an overview on what is required and the terms and conditions for applying.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Note – This document is issued for information purposes only.  As this document is updated from time to time, please ensure you check with your local Jamaat representative for the most current version.  For the purpose of this document, wherever the Board is mentioned it refers to the Education Board.

 

  1. What is the HELP Scheme and what are its objectives?

The Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) scheme aims to provide support for the students in the community to pursue their undergraduate and postgraduate studies from reputable educational institutions. This support is provided as an interest-free loan.

  1. What is the procedure of applying for the HELP scheme?

Application forms for the HELP scheme can be obtained in hard copy from the Jamaat Office and/or Africa Federation Office. Soft copies of the form are also available from the Africa Federation website (www.africafederation.org).

The duly filled forms and all the supporting documents have to be submitted to the respective Jamaat offices after which they are vetted initially by the Higher Education Representatives within the Jamaat structure and then forwarded to the Education Board Secretariat for further consideration.

The process for application also involves meeting with a Career Guidance Counselor who fills in a particular section on the application form.

The form currently has no guarantors required for the application however an oath taking process has been introduced that the student and the parents/guardians of the student adhere to. This is facilitated by the Jamaat Office.

Applications are processed based on the following cycles:

Deadline Date for submitting Applications:    For Semesters commencing    
31st July September or October
31st October January
30th April May, June or July

It is understood that different countries have different semester structures; however the above chart has been created to accommodate the maximum number of students. If your semester structure does not fit exactly into the above application cycles, please use the deadline which matches closest.

Application received after the start of the academic year will not be considered for that year. However it may be considered for the coming years.

Note – The Education Board is currently working on the development of an online application portal. The vision is that once the platform is finalized the process of applying and management of the loan will become fully automated. Updates regarding this will be provided once available.

  1. What courses does the HELP scheme support?

HELP scheme is categorized in 2 tiers.

Tier A supports a full bachelors or master’s degree with teaching conducted primarily in person/face-to-face.

Tier B Supports shorter programmes (e.g. associate degrees) and fully accredited online degree programmes.

The Board strictly does not support any foundation years or undecided courses.
The student must also have already been accepted by a reputable higher education institution, in order for their loan application to be processed.

  1. What is the value of the loan that students have access to, through the HELP scheme Tier A?

Tier A
Undergraduate Studies: 

The students receive a maximum of $8,000 per annum for a maximum of 4 year & a maximum of $5,000 per annum for local studies for a maximum of 4 years, with an exception of an additional year for medicine.

Postgraduate Studies: 

  • The students receive a maximum of 15,000$ per annum for a maximum of 2 years (or a maximum of $30,000 for courses longer than 2 years) for international Universities. And a maximum annual loan amount of USD 10,000 for local universities.
  • This loan programme does not include Postgraduate Diplomas and Certificates.
  • For the purpose of the Education Board and its policies, local studies means within the country of residence of the student. Exceptional circumstances may be considered depending on the documentation provided.
  • 4 year Master’s courses immediately after A-levels (as is the case in some countries) will be treated as an Undergraduate loan and be granted $8,000 maximum per annum.
  • The loan amounts provided include tuition fees, accommodation and all other educational expenses.
  • A maximum of $3000 for accommodation & living expenses will be approved for those whose tuition fee is less than $8000 for undergraduate studies. For postgraduate studies, a maximum of $6000 for accommodation and living expenses will be approved if the tuition fee is less than $15,000 per annum.
  • Documentation showing clear breakdown of the different costs must be obtained by the students from the respective higher education institutions and submitted to the Board along with the application. The Board may at any time seek further information from the student or directly from the institution concerned, regarding these details.

Note – For both the undergraduate and postgraduate courses the students must present commitment for any funds required in excess of the loan provided by the Education Board.

  1. What is the value of the loan that students have access to, through the HELP scheme Tier B?

Tier B

  • Associate degrees, higher diplomas, professional and technical courses

The student will receive a maximum annual loan amount of USD 4,000 for both local and international institutions of learning for a maximum of 2 years.

  • Online programmes will only be eligible if they are full bachelor’s degrees, and only from highly accredited universities (e.g. Open University UK, University of London International Programmes, UNISA).

For online full degrees a student will receive a maximum annual loan amount of USD 4,000 for a maximum of 4 years. (or a maximum of $8000 for courses longer than 2 years)

  • College route: The first two years of “2+1” or “2+2” schemes – where the student studies for the first two years to do an associate degree, often at a college and then moves to a university to complete their bachelors will be covered in this tier. The student will receive a maximum of $4000 per annum for the years in college for a maximum of 2 years and with the final years covered under Tier A which is $8000 per annum for a maximum of 2 years.
  • Postgraduate Diploma & Certificates: This will cater for postgraduate programmes (e.g. PGDE, PGDA, PGCE) Online programmes will only be eligible if they are full masters degrees, and only from highly-accredited universities. The student will receive a maximum annual loan amount of USD 4,000 for a maximum of 2 years (or a maximum of $8000 for courses longer than 2 years)
  • CAT/ACCA:
    • A student will receive a Maximum of amount $8000 for CAT +ACCA for a maximum of 4 years.
    • The applicant will have to sit for minimum 2 papers per semester for ACCA to qualify and claim the next disbursement.

Please note that the Education Board reserves the right to make the final decision on whether the loan falls into Tier A or Tier B.

  1. What happens when the loan is approved?

Once the loan is approved, the respective Jamaat office is notified and then funds disbursement is managed through the Jamaat. The Education Board provides an approval letter that is provided to the student through the Jamaat Office.

At the end of every academic year, the student must submit their transcript and a summary of their experience in that academic year (other achievements, challenges faced) to the Board for disbursement of the amount for the next academic year. When applicable, the students must also submit a document from the academic institution clearly stating the progression of the student to the next academic year.

  1. In what currency is the loan provided and repaid?

The loans are provided in US Dollars and must be repaid in the same currency irrespective of the fluctuations in the currency conversion rates. This is to ensure that the funds are replenished in a uniform manner to be used by other students as well.

  1. What is the repayment model?

After completing their studies, the student will be granted 12 months of grace period after which he/she will start his repayment. Repayment will have to be completed within 5 years or less.

A repayment plan is part of the application process and the student must confirm before the loan is finalized.

The student and the parents/guardians will be expected to take an oath to make all repayments according to the signed repayment plan.

  1. What if a student cannot repay in line with the agreement signed?

We will consider this under exceptional circumstances only.  Remember, the only reason you were able to receive the loan in the first instance, was because those before you were diligent in repaying back into the fund.

Should you find yourself in a position where you are unable to repay based on the monthly commitment made, you need to immediately communicate with the Education Board and the Jamaat through which your loan was processed, regardless of where in the world you have gone on to reside.  A mutually agreed restructuring of the loan can be discussed, depending on your circumstances.

It is important to note that in the interest of the sustainability of the overall loan scheme, not all appeals for loan restructuring will be granted. There is a very strict criteria through which extenuating circumstances must be explained and evaluated.

Students are advised to keep the importance of repayment of the loan in mind before planning for other personal & religious commitments.

  1. What if I have a sibling or other family member with an outstanding loan?

For such scenarios, as long as the sibling or family member is paying as per their agreed repayment schedule, the loan will be processed in the normal manner, with all other processes and checks taking place.  Should the sibling or family member be in arrears on their repayment, the loan will only be considered once an agreed repayment plan is submitted to and approved by the Board.

  1. A student wants to apply for postgraduate support while the undergraduate repayment has not been completed.

For those applying for postgraduate loans with a pending undergraduate loan:

  • Repayment of 50% of the undergraduate loan must have been completed, prior to a postgraduate loan being considered.
  • There is no added/separate grace period. If the applicant has already utilized the grace period during the undergraduate loan they must pay immediately on completion of their postgraduate degree.
  • A student may not apply for a second undergraduate or postgraduate degree under the HELP scheme
  1.  A student wants to apply for a 3rd loan (PhD) while the first 2 loans repayment has not been completed.

For those applying for a 3rd loan with a pending undergraduate/postgraduate loan:

  • Full repayment of the previous two loans must have been completed, for the 3rd loan to be considered.
  1.  What happens if a student decided to change their course of study?

The student must inform the respective Jamaat and the Board as soon as possible and NOT after all the transfer procedures have been completed. The Board has the right to question the reasoning of the decision made and if not satisfied with the reasoning provided has the right to suspend the loan immediately. Loans of students who do not inform in due time will also be re-evaluated.

The loan will continue in the event that the total duration of the course (4 years) does not change. Any extra years of study generated as a result of this change will not be supported by the HELP scheme.

Note – Only one change will be considered. Students are encouraged to carefully consider all options before applying for the loan to avoid such changes. Career counseling also plays an important role in making these decisions.

  1. I want to become a Professional Pilot; can I apply under the HELP scheme?

Professional Pilot course will be considered if the applicant has completed ‘O Levels’ with Geography, Physics & Math as their core subjects, including a ‘pass’ in all the three subjects.  The student will receive a maximum of $20,000 for two years for the course which may include Private Pilot License, but must include Commercial Pilot License.

  1. The Student Case Studies that will be considered on a case to case basis

There are certain scenarios that will be reviewed on a case to case basis due to their rare and specific nature. These include sandwich programs, pre – university programs (that are different from foundation years) and students who take a gap year from their studies.

Should you have questions or concerns that have not been addressed in this document, please email education@africafederation.org