HELB Loans Penalty and Interest Waiver in 2020

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Written By El Gwaro

Once in a while the Ministry of Education announces the HELB waiver for all HELB beneficiaries in Kenya. This announcement is yet to be made in 2020. This announcement comes with a sigh of relief for many yet in real terms is not beneficial to many as expected.

First, for the sake of clarity, a waiver is a voluntary removal of a certain charge or money owned. The HELB loan waiver is meant to reduce the amount of money required to be paid by a HELB beneficiary. At least that’s what most expect.

Annually the Minister of Education would announce a waiver on HELB loans. It comes in different percentages for instance 80% or 100% waiver that CS Amina gave in 2018. This waiver however usually applies to penalties only and not the entire loan amount.

Also, you are given the condition to repay your entire loan in a lump sum over about 3 months to enjoy the HELB penalty waiver. Well, this doesn’t seem fair!

The idea behind the waiver is to make it easier for HELB beneficiaries to repay their loans from the income they are making. How then can you ask a loanee to pay the entire loan which amounts to hundreds of thousands over such a short period?

If this approach is meant to be helpful to Kenyans most of whom are unemployed, then they need to extend the waiver to the interest accrued besides the penalty and extend the time for payment to 6 – 12 months.

Last year, HELB came under huge criticism for its attempt to publish names and photos of loan payment defaulters in an attempt to shame and coerce them into the payment of the loans. This move was considered absurd and a lazy way of its fund recovery strategy from a depressed young economy.

I don’t think the problem is beneficiaries’ unwillingness in paying the loans. The problem is a result of several systemic factors that have to be considered to remedy the situation.

Most fundamental of all factors is unemployment. Kenya’s government has been promising to create hundreds of thousands of jobs annually since I-can’t-remember-when, a promise they have always fallen short of.

This happens while hundreds of thousands of students graduate every year and join the job market. Besides, companies have been laying off thousands of workers monthly which signifies the inevitable change in the workforce in the future.

Secondly, the cost of Higher education is rising rapidly while its quality falls across most of the intuitions in the country. This comes as a result of the influx of students in certain professions resulting in exceeding of resources available for quality education.

I think if we are to solve these issues we need to change the education system into a multidimensional program that enables students to learn how to apply acquired knowledge to create jobs, use their talents to earn a living, understand how to use the internet to make money and learn how to manage money.


  1. Hi onsomu, i started repaying my loan 2 years after graduation, that’s means a 12 month penalty had been imposed, I have been paying 2-5k per month but not every month, some months I’m unable to pay, so after checking my statement, i realised there is no progress at all, all payments i make are taken by the penalties when I’m unable to pay, meaning my loan doesn’t reduce. How can you advise me?

    • Hello Wilson, I know how frustrating HELB loan payment can be. I feel like they have not organized the system to define the loan, interest and penalties well. The best thing you can do is find sometime to visit the Anniversary Towers and seek clarification with one of the customer care agents so that they can explain all those details. Another option is to wait for a time when a HELB Waiver can be given by the government so that you can take advantage of it. This approach is not a sure bet and also when the waiver comes you’ll be asked to pay at least 50% of your entire loan to enjoy the waiver on penalties.

    • Hey Zamzam, I don’t think, there is a HELB Waiver currently available, you have to wait until HELB announces a waiver for you to apply.

  2. I worked for an NGO for the 4 year between 2012 and 2015. I was paying 4322 per month for that period. My contract ended and haven’t gotten another job. My principal amount was 125000. I had paid 204000. Can HELB waiver set me free.

    • Hey Martha, I’m not sure what exactly you’re asking because from simple math, you seem to have overpaid your loan. However, if you do have some balance remaining, a HELB waiver will only be of help in offsetting any penalties you accrued since you graduated. HELB waivers are only applied to penalties, not the loan itself.

  3. I began repaying my loan way back last year 2019. The running loan amount by then was 244707. I checked once again my running loan balance today and to my surprise it was 236421.26. Does it mean so far I have paid 8286 shillings. This is so heart breaking after all the sacrifice I am making to see to the loan repayment. I began repaying on October 2019 and the least amount I pay in a month is 3000.

    • Hello Mirriam, I understand the predicament you are going through now. So here is what you’ll do. If you have been paying through MPesa, go and get your MPesa statement for the last 1 year. Check my article on how to get MPesa statement for guidance. Once you have all your statement. Locate all the payment you made towards your HELB Loan. Calculate the total amount of money you paid. Next, download you helb statement and compare with your MPesa statement. Armed with this information, reach out to HELB customer care (use twitter first) and demand for an explanation as to why your loan balance does not reflect your actual balance after paying. Attach your MPesa statement as evidence. If need be, visit their offices and have them look into the matter. Meanwhile check out for suspicious charges. I recently looked at my HELB statement and discovered a penalty I was charged for nonpayment while in my second year. Here is another guide on that matter. Anyway, I hope the sort out your issue soon enough, all the best.

  4. Hi Onsomu,

    Me too..in fact ,I have cleared my principal amount, am only servicing the Penalty which is 120,000.What is the correct platform to raise this concerns more so this covid-19 period?…This will help us so much given that someone like me,i have been paying my loan. Its high time the government gives a 100% waiver on penalties during this trying moments…how can I make it reach the relevant ministry to waive and cushion us.

    • Hi Moses, a waiver from the government on loan penalties can only be put in place under the mercy of the current ministry of education. It is not a guarantee that a waiver will be given even if you contact the ministry on the issue. Previously CS Amina Mohammed offered waivers both in 2018 and 2019 but it is not their duty to offer waivers every year. So, you can only wait and hope while paying what you can now.

    • Hey Nelson, the waiver usually only covers the penalties. Thus it is only nice when your penalties have grown too expensive.

    • I believe it will be announced through HELB social media platforms, so follow them to be notified immediately the waiver is up.

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