More than 900,000 applications received
According to higher education minister Blade Nzimande, from November 2021 to January 21, the NSFAS received more than 900,000 applications from applicants who intend furthering their post-school education at 50 Technical Vocational Education & Training (TVET) colleges and 26 public universities.
For students to qualify for the funding they must be from a household with a combined income of not more than R350,000 a year, be living with disabilities and have a combined household income of not more than R600,000 a year, or be a permanent resident with a valid permit issued by the department of home affairs.
“The NSFAS initiated a system improvement process to improve the turnaround time and facilitate speedy provisional funding decisions for students using third party sources such as the home affairs and basic education departments, Social Security Agency of SA and SA Revenue Service data,” said Nzimande.
He said the financial aid scheme experienced a sharp increase in demand for bursaries this year.
“I am happy to report that we will be able to fund all qualifying students on the department’s bursary scheme who have been admitted for funded programmes at public TVET colleges and universities in 2022. Further details will be provided by the NSFAS, including the appeals process,” said Nzimande.
Historic student debt
Nzimande also expressed concern about students who are in financial aid debt.
He said a survey conducted by the department last year showed an estimated 56.2% of students with debt owe less than R10,000, 32.9% owe between R10,000 and R50,000, and 10.9% owe more than R50,000.
The survey also showed NSFAS students owe a collective R5.3bn, said Nzimande.
“NSFAS has undertaken a process called Close Out Project to deal with historic debt as well as the historic challenges of outstanding data reconciliation between NSFAS and our institutions,” he said.
“The Close Out Project emanated from the data challenges brought about by the 2017 NSFAS implementation of the student-centred model for our 26 universities and 50 TVET Colleges.
“This Close Out Project aims to complete all the work relating to funding of students and disbursement of allowances for the academic years 2017 to 2020.”