Johannesburg - Close to 10 000 applications for funding have been rejected by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for 2017, but all is not lost. NSFAS spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo said students whose applications were unsuccessful could appeal the decision before a date yet to be announced. Students were urged to check for updates on the scheme's website. NSFAS has already granted financial aid to 175 348 students in 26 universities for the year. Mamabolo said, although the closing date for applications was January 20, "some universities are still in the process of concluding their [supplementary] examinations. We therefore expect these numbers of funded students to increase"."The scheme worked tirelessly with the assistance of all the institutions of higher learning and the Department of Higher Education and Training to ensure that the allocation of financial aid for first-time and returning students is allocated before the end of the academic registration period."He added that 67 875 first-time students and 107 474 returning students had received grants.Student protesters periodically shut down a number of campuses nationwide in 2016 as they called for free education, following an announcement by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande that fees would increase by no more than 8% for those from households that could afford the hike.