HEF Loan Vs HELB Loan: Key Differences

Understanding HEF Loans and HELB Loans in Kenya: A Comprehensive Comparison

Higher education in Kenya often requires financial assistance, and two significant sources of student loans are the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) and the Higher Education Financing (HEF) program. 

Each of these initiatives aims to support students in pursuing their academic goals, but they differ in their structures and eligibility criteria somehow.

HEF Loan

HEF Loan website screenshot
HEF Loan Website Screenshot 

The Higher Education Financing (HEF) program is a financial assistance initiative by the Kenyan government launched in 2023. This program includes students in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions in addition to university students.

It's a program meant to replace HELB, which only served students in universities before 2023.

HEF loans are designed to cover tuition fees and other related costs for students pursuing higher education courses in various fields. 


HELB Loan Logo
HELB Loans Logo

The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) is a well-known government agency responsible for providing financial aid to students pursuing higher education in universities. 

HELB loans used to be available for undergraduate and postgraduate studies, covering tuition fees, accommodation, and other related expenses. 

This agency stopped accepting new loan applications. Only student beneficiaries who got funding before 2023 can use HELB portal to service their loans.

This government education loans never considered colleges,TVET students and it's why HELB is being replaced with HEF which serves all higher education students.

HEF Loan v/s HELB Loan:Key Differences 

To better understand the distinctions between HEF and HELB loans, let's delve into the key differences between the two in the following table: 

Aspect HEF Loan HELB Loan
Eligibility Criteria Primarily meant to include TVET students 

Available for university and college students
Course Coverage Certificate and diploma courses  Undergraduate and postgraduate programs
Institution Coverage TVET institutions, Universities  Universities and colleges
Loan Amount Varies based on tuition and related costs  Structured to cover tuition, accommodation, and other expenses
Repayment Period Begins six months after course completion 

Typically starts one year after completing studies
Interest Rates Low interest rates set by the government  

Competitive interest rates
Application Process Application through the TVET institution,HEF portal  

Direct application through the HELB portal
Disbursement Funds disbursed through the TVET institution, Student account  Direct disbursement to the student's account 


In conclusion, while both HEF and HELB loans aim to facilitate access to higher education in Kenya, they cater to different segments of students pursuing various courses.

The HEF program primary aim is to include those in TVET institutions too, offering financial support for certificate and diploma courses. On the other hand, HELB loans were available for a broader range of students pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate studies in universities and colleges not TVET.

Understanding these key differences is crucial for students seeking financial assistance, as it allows them to make informed decisions based on their educational paths. 

Whether one opts for a HEF loan or a HELB loan depends on their academic pursuits and the specific requirements of the chosen educational institution. Both programs contribute significantly to making higher education accessible to a broader spectrum of students in Kenya.

Students are now only able to apply for higher education loans via the HEF portal,which is replacing HELB portal since 2023.

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