Cape Town - Matric pupils and students hoping for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding next year must have their applications in by no later than November 30, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said on Monday.This applies to matric pupils, and students already at university or college, who want to apply for the first time - even though they have not written final exams yet."NSFAS does not require exam results for the application process, so learners are encouraged to apply before their exams start so that they know that their application has been submitted," said Nzimande.This was particularly important for Grade 12 pupils, he said.Applications opened on August 1 and, by October 9, NSFAS had already received 80 494 valid applications.Applications must have all the required information and certified supporting documents. These include certified ID copies of the applicants and their parents/guardians, or an unabridged birth certificate.Online and paper-based applications are both acceptable, but online applications are encouraged.There would be no grace period after November 30, Nzimande warned.NSFAS-funded students need not reapply Applications can be dropped off at NSFAS application centres, the National Youth Development Agency's local offices, as well as student support services units at universities and TVET colleges. Applicants must get a reference number if dropping off paper applications.NSFAS will work with the departments of Home Affairs and Basic Education for swift data processing and verification.Although not required, applicants are advised to submit both an ID and unabridged birth certificate to speed up the verification process. The 2017 NSFAS-funded students who will be moving to the next academic level in 2018 need not reapply for funding. However, students already enrolled and who were not funded in 2017, can also apply if their financial circumstances have changed.Nzimande also wants youngsters to start applying for their smart identity cards to make enrolment for 2019 easier.KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.- FOLLOW News24 on TwitterNews24 (@News24) | TwitterThe latest Tweets from News24 (@News24). News24 is Southern Africa and Africa's premier online news resource reaching over 2.3 million local users each month.