The financial need of the student will be assessed at the point of first application, and students will not need to re-apply annually.
A student can only be funded for one qualification at one institution at any one time.
The threshold of R350 000 family income per annum only applies to those who were first-time entry (FTEN) students in 2018 and will also apply to those who will be FTENs in 2019 and going forward. Students who entered their studies prior to 2018 qualify for a grant according to the previous threshold of R122 000 family income per annum. The grants for these students from 2018 onwards are subject to a funding cap, as in prior years.
Students who have already studied at a university or obtained a prior university qualification do not qualify as FTEN students even if they are entering the first year of a new programme. Students starting a university qualification for the first time, but who have already achieved a TVET qualification may qualify as a university FTEN student.
Approved funded programmes at universities are all undergraduate whole qualifications i.e. degree, diploma or higher certificate programme, offered by a public university. Additional courses that are not core requirements of a whole qualification are not funded. Occasional programmes are not funded.
Students on a full DHET bursary may not receive another full cost of study bursary from another source at the same time. If a student receives a partial bursary from another source, a NSFAS bursary may be awarded, but the allocations must be reduced accordingly, so that the student is supported fully for their studies. NSFAS may not pay for amounts already covered by another funder. Universities are obliged to report this information to NSFAS and to reduce the fee account accordingly.
NSFAS free funding will only apply to students doing their first undergraduate qualifications.
NSFAS has not received any commitment by government at this stage to write of any outstanding student debts. The free education pronouncement was clear that it will be effective starting from the 2018 academic year. As far as we are concerned, previous loans will still need to be paid back by those who benefited.
Universities and colleges will receive their allocations once they have given us lists of their registered students. Each institution’s allocation will be determined by the number of their students and their allowances and tuition costs. Once NSFAS is satisfied with these lists, agreement forms for bursary recipients will be disbursed for signing by the students. Once they are signed, NSFAS will have confirmation that the student has acknowledged the funding, and that the student has verified the information as being correct, and that the student is indeed registered and is attending classes. Then NSFAS will disburse funds to the institution. Funds to universities and colleges are released on a quarterly basis. Student allowances are paid out on monthly basis.
All eligible students who fall within the R350 000 household income bracket, and have been admitted at universities and TVET colleges, will be funded.
NSFAS will only settle student debt from the currently funded year onwards, those who owe universities or colleges and were not funded by NSFAS will settle their debt.
Allowances are subject to annual increases. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used to determine increases to food and transport allowances. Accommodation and tuition fee increase in line with agreed institutional increases, unless otherwise indicated. For private accommodation, annual increases are capped at the amounts for internal university owned managed accommodation. The annual tuition fee increase is not determined by NSFAS.
Funding is allocated as per annual tuition increase. The annual tuition fee increase is not determined by NSFAS.
To maintain the NSFAS Funding you must meet the academic requirements set by the institution to continue with the qualification and should pass at least 50% of all your modules for that year or semester.
The 80% attendance rule is a policy matter. TVET guidelines were distributed to all colleges with terms and conditions of the NSFAS bursary. The funds that would have been accumulated from the allowances as a result of students failing to comply with the requirement of 80% minimum class attendance must be returned to NSFAS. Students who have failed to comply do not reive any backdates of allowances.
All funded student allowances for 2020 will be paid in cash, either directly to the student via NSFAS Wallet or via the institution to the student.
A Learning Materials’ (Book) allowances only apply at universities and the trend has been to move more towards access to the internet than the purchase of books. NSFAS stopped book vouchers for a number of reasons:
• Students have been the target of a voucher scam in various campuses;
• There were many commercial interests by merchants providing services to students at a fee using vouchers;
• Students were trading the book vouchers for cash outside many supermarkets;
• The voucher system was limited to selected merchants that monopolised the student market;
• There was no financial freedom for the students on where to purchase books, including second-hand retailers;
• The book allowance had increasingly been extended to a learning materials allowance that included laptops and tablets.
In addition, the call to change book vouchers to cash was one of the many demands by the student leadership in South Africa, as part of their input in the policy governing the higher education student funding
NSFAS has no mechanism to monitor students spending of cash allowances. NSFAS believes that students should be treated as adults and have the financial freedom to withdraw the cash voucher and make an informed decision on how to best utilise the funds. The ultimate responsibility is in the hands of the students. In the process NSFAS expects students to grow to be responsible citizens and take charge of their economic freedom.
The voucher system that has been used by both the NSFAS and some institutions is very limiting in this regard. In addition, as identified above, vouchers were being traded for cash, usually at sizeable discounts. This meant that students received less benefit than the full value of the allowance.
The introduction of the personal allowance came as a result of numerous engagements with various stakeholders and students on how NSFAS could best assist in issues of personal necessities across universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges (TVET). This allowance will cover some of students’ toiletry and sanitary needs to ensure that they don’t miss classes as a result.
All NSFAS funded students living in catered residences in addition to their catered accommodation.
NSFAS has set aside more than R2.2 billion, which will be introduced as new allowance to more than 800 000 students.
This stipend will kick in with other allowances as soon as NSFAS has received registration data from institutions. NSFAS will start paying allowances at the end of January when academic activities resume.
To qualify for the historic debt clearance, you must:
NSFAS uses more than one source to verify family income. There is an integrated process with key credit bureau house that triangulates data across multiple sources to verify earnings.
NSFAS student loans are income-contingent, which means that repayment commences when you start working. NSFAS will send you statements to help you keep track of how much you owe. It is your legal responsibility to keep in touch with NSFAS and to inform us of any change of address and contact details.
Repayments of your student loan are based on the salary that you earn, and start once your salary is R30 000 or more per year. The repayment amount starts at a calculation of 3% of your annual salary, increasing to a maximum of 8% when your salary reaches R59 300 or more per year. For example, you will repay R900 on a salary of R30 000 a year, or R75 per month. Once your annual salary reaches R59 300 your repayment will be R4 744 a year or R395 a month. You can choose to pay more than this, so that you can pay off your loan off faster, and reduce the amount of interest you will be charged on your loan.
Interest is charged at 80% of the repo rate, which is the repurchase rate at which the Reserve Bank lends to commercial banks. NSFAS will continue to charge interest on all outstanding balances, making it imperative that you start repaying your loan as soon as possible. The interest rate is set at the beginning of every financial year (April).
Students sign a legally binding loan agreement contract to repay their loans. NSFAS also works with third party organisations (e.g SARS to track down NSFAS beneficiaries who are employed and earning more than R30 000 per year and make payment arrangements.
The amount owed varies, as some students might be funded for only one year while others may be funded for their whole qualification. Some students owe R10 000, others owe R150 000.
Every cent of a loan repayment goes towards helping other students with funding.
No time limit is given for repayment, since this is determined by the salary of the debtor, and his or her ability to repay. Those who are unemployed are not expected to repay.
Those who are unemployed are not expected to repay, but must inform NSFAS whenever their employment status changes.
Students who drop out are still required to repay their loan when they start earning R30 000 or more a year.
Different loans have different rules about conversion. Up to a maximum of 40% of a general loan is converted into a bursary when a student passes all of the courses they were registered for in that year. Students who apply at their institution's Financial Aid Office to be on the NSFAS Final-Year Programme have their final-year loans converted into a 100% bursary if they pass all of their final-year courses and qualify to graduate. If they do not pass all subjects, the conversion applicable to general loans is applied.
The bursary conversion shows as a rebate on your statement when NSFAS receives your academic results from the university. This takes place at the end of the NSFAS financial year in April.
Your academic results are used to calculate any bursary rebates: for example, 40% of your student loan will be converted into a bursary if you pass all courses; if you pass half of your courses, then 20% of the student loan will be converted into a bursary. If you don't pass any courses, you will not receive any bursary rebate for that academic year and you will have to repay 100% of your student loan.
Students in their final year of study, who qualify to graduate if they pass all their courses, are eligible to be funded through the Final-Year Programme, a fund announced by the President in 2011. You may apply to be part of this programme at your institution's Financial Aid Office. Should a Final-Year Programme student successfully graduate, the loan is converted to a 100% bursary. Students can only benefit from this programme once.