Students owing money to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) were jubilant after their statements reflected zero balances – but their excitement was short-lived.
Nsfas spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo told City Press that an error occurred which resulted in the zero balances.
“During the October 2018 statement run, there was a data extraction error which resulted in debtors receiving statements with incorrect balances (nil balances). This error was identified immediately and Nsfas sent communication to all affected debtors in this regard. The source of the problem has since been identified and correct statements will be distributed to all debtors. Additional checks have since been implemented to ensure that this does not occur again,” Mamabolo said.
He said beneficiaries who received funding in the form of loans during the 2017 academic year and prior years were required to repay their loans as soon as they were working and earning above R30 000 per annum.
This comes with less than 30 days to go before the official closing date for 2019 student funding applications.
Prospective beneficiaries, who have not yet applied for 2019 financial aid, were called on by Nsfas to submit their online applications or visit their nearest National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) centres before the closing date of November 30 2018.
Applications were opened in September to those wishing to further their studies with an approved course at any public university or technical and vocational education and training (TVET) college.
Nsfas applications have doubled
Since the application cycle opened, Nsfas has received 191 887 applications.
This number is more than double that in October 2017, when only 90 000 applications had been received.
By last Thursday, the top five provinces with the highest number of applications received were KwaZulu-Natal with 53 626, Gauteng with 43 943, Limpopo with 27 716, Eastern Cape with 18 961 and Mpumalanga with 15 783.
Applications received in Free State totalled 10 872, Western Cape 10 576, North West 8 940 and Northern Cape 1 470.
At the beginning of the campaign, Nsfas partnered with the NYDA to utilise their branches in all provinces to support online applications and to receive and capture manual applications on to the online system.
More than 30 000 students have been assisted through the NYDA branches since the opening of applications.
Nsfas has communicated to vice-chancellors and TVET principals that the closing date for applications was the end of this month and that no extension will be granted, it said in a statement released on Thursday.
Institutions were also informed that Nsfas-funded students, with a confirmed bursary offer, should not pay a registration fee when they present themselves for registration in January 2019.
Nsfas said it was important for applicants to not change their cellphone number or email address used for the application.
These will be used by Nsfas to communicate the result of their application.
Nsfas said it will only fund applicants who have been accepted on an approved course at a university or a TVET college.
Applicants who wish to inquire about their application status or contest funding decisions can do so by calling the Nsfas contact centre toll free number 0860 007 327.