• Allowances

  • Will all allowances be paid in cash, including accommodation 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.

  • Why did the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) decide to stop providing book vouchers and award cash grants for books to each 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

  • Has NSFAS put any mechanisms in place to monitor that the cash grants are used for its designated purpose of purchasing books; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

    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.

  • How did the R290 monthly allowance initiative come about?

    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.

  • Who is set to benefit?

    All NSFAS funded students living in catered residences in addition to their catered accommodation.

  • How much has been budgeted for this allowance?

    NSFAS has set aside more than R2.2 billion, which will be introduced as new allowance to more than 800 000 students.

  • When will students start receiving the allowance?

    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.

  • Appeals

  • Who may appeal and where?
    You can appeal if:
    * There is a material change in your combined household income (proof of loss of income needed with a fully completed NSFAS form for students that were not previously funded)
    * Loss of a bursary/sponsor in the 2019 academic year (documented proof should be provided and accompany a fully completed NSFAS application form)
    * Failure to meet academic criteria where prior academic performance had been satisfactory (provide supporting information and documentation that provides reasons that affected performance)
    * Failure to meet academic criteria due to medical condition (s) or death of an immediate family member (provide supporting information and documentation)
    * You had a gap year in NSFAS funding or failed to register previously and could not reapply for funding.

    Appeals are submitted online for those who applied in 2019 for 2020 funding through the enhanced system, and through institutions FAOs for those were funded in 2019.
  • When will students receive feedback on their appeal?
    Students are encouraged to check their funding statuses at least 7 days after submission of appeal. Funding statuses change as and when an appeal decision has been made. Appeal results are available on the myNSFAS portal. To view the results, log your myNSFAS account or register an account on www.nsfas.org.za.
  • What happens if the student’s appeal is approved, but they have missed registration?
    Student can register, if registration is closed, they may use next registration window. * NSFAS has no control over registrations for students awaiting appeals.
  • Repayments

  • How do I repay the student loan?

    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.

  • How are repayments calculated?

    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).

  • How do you ensure that students pay back the money?

    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.

  • How much do students owe, on average?

    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.

  • How much of the loan repayment assists in funding other students?

    Every cent of a loan repayment goes towards helping other students with funding.

  • How much time do students have to pay back their loans?

    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.

  • What happens if a student loses his/her job while still paying back their loan?

    Those who are unemployed are not expected to repay, but must inform NSFAS whenever their employment status changes.

  • What about students who drop out during their studies?

    Students who drop out are still required to repay their loan when they start earning R30 000 or more a year.

  • When and how is a loan converted into a bursary?

    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.

  • How do these bursary conversions show on NSFAS repayments?

    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.

  • Is it true that the NSFAS loans of successful third-year university students do not need to be repaid?

    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.

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