Nsfas expected to make upfront payments of more than R6 billion to universities and TVET colleges

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Nsfas applicants have up until tonight to submit their applications. Photo: File
Nsfas applicants have up until tonight to submit their applications. Photo: File


The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) anticipates making upfront payments of about R3.5 billion to universities and R2.7 billion to technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges.

This was announced by scheme board chairperson Ernest Khosa on Tuesday, as he detailed the funding decision for the academic year. He said there were over 1.5 million applications that the scheme had received, and the application system was closing at midnight on Tuesday.

Of this number, more than 613 000 applicants have been provisionally funded and 338 320 are continuing students, with 275 589 new applicants.

He said 210 679 applications were on assessment of financial eligibility, a process in which funding was verified against the government's 350 000 threshold.

Khosa said that, for this process, Nsfas used third party data from the SA Revenue Service to validate the information provided by the applicant.

"There are about 149 202 applicants who are still awaiting academic eligibility and, accordingly, Nsfas eligibility. A total of 273 746 applications are awaiting evaluation and Nsfas had received more than 1.6 million applications, which is the highest number received in the history of the scheme."

READ: Institutions of higher learning should allow Nsfas beneficiaries to register

He said there were 161 139 applications that had been rejected for not meeting the criteria and 1 261 appeals had already been submitted.

Khosa said Nsfas was in a position to be able to provide upfront payments to institutions, to allow for the payment of allowances and minimise the financial impact of beneficiaries' nonpayment of registration fees.

At the beginning of the last two academic years, we had started with some uncertainty due to budget shortfalls. This academic year and the next one, there is budget certainty. The department of higher education has allocated R47.6 billion for student funding; R38.6 billion for universities and R8.9 billion for TVET colleges.

However, Khosa said that, in this academic year, certain policy changes had been introduced to progressively address disparities between TVET college and university beneficiaries’ bursary packages.

"TVET college students studying occupational programmes can only be funded for the cost of tuition for the duration of the qualification. TVET college graduates will be funded for a university undergraduate qualification, regardless of the benefit, on condition they did not exceed the TVET N+ rule," he said.

The N+ rule means that students will have a year or two more to complete their studies.

Khosa said the payment of allowances would be made directly by Nsfas into the students’ bank accounts. After being registered into the system, students would receive a virtual or physical card to use for transactions.

READ: ‘NSFAS multiplied five-fold in the past six years, irrespective of shortfalls’ - Blade Nzimande

"Students would be able to make online transactions such as EFTs, prepaid purchases, and receive from and transfer money to other banks, just as with a normal bank account. To ensure that all Nsfas students are onboarded on our new allowance pay system, we have assigned Nsfas teams to institutions, and our service partners will join us in visiting all the institutions from February to assist with the onboarding and query handling," he said.

Meanwhile, Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande said university-managed and catered students would receive a R5 460 allowance for learning materials and R61 500 for accommodation, when the university provide accommodation and catering. 

University-managed self-catering students and those staying in private off campus will receive R5 400 for learning material, R16 500 per annum for living allowance and a capped accommodation allowance of R45 000. Those living with relatives, not in private accommodation, will receive R5 400 for learning material and R16 500 for living allowances per annum.

He said TVET college own-catered residents would receive an accommodation allowance to the total of R54 045 per annum.

"TVET college managed own and leased self-catering, together with students in private accommodation will receive a R6 000 living allowance, R3 045 personal care and R45 000 accommodation allowance per annum. TVET students residing less than 10km from the college will receive a R6 000 living allowance, R3 045 personal care and R7 718 travel allowance," Nzimande said.

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