The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) is yet to receive registration data from several universities in order to disburse funding to eligible students.
On Tuesday, Nsfas released a funding status report for this year which details the number of students funded, the amount of money disbursed to institutions so far and the funding challenges it had encountered.
In the report, Nsfas revealed that 1 286 867 university and college students are eligible for funding in this year’s funding cycle. The number includes 939 934 university students and 346 933 at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.
However, the scheme said so far only confirmed funding was for 623 386 – 421 331 university and 202 055 for TVET college students.
This was because the scheme was yet to receive registration data from the institutions in order to disburse the funds.
Out of the 939 934 university students eligible for funding, the scheme had only received registration data for 431 801 students. To date Nsfas has paid more than R13 billion to universities.
The report said Nsfas did not always receive students’ registration records on time, and that in some cases data was received as late as November or December.
“This practice will no longer be allowed as Nsfas has communicated closing dates for registration data submission to all institutions,” reads the report.
Because the previous academic year was extended and only ended in March this year, Nsfas said it sent out a circular to tertiary institutions with the April 25 deadline. The scheme said institutions that had challenges with the extended academic year engaged Nsfas and made arrangements.
“All affected institutions with lower registration numbers, including the Walter Sisulu University, the University of Venda, the Tshwane University of Technology and University of Limpopo have initiated conversations with the Nsfas on their processes to finalise and speed up submission of registration data to match the number of funded students in these institutions,” reads the report.
. Tshwane University of Technology which has 62 730 students eligible for funding but is yet to provide the registration data;
. University of Fort Hare has 13 794 students eligible for funding but has only provided data for 7 091;
. There are 33 706 students eligible for Nsfas funding at the University of Limpopo but it has only provided registration data for 519 students;
. Unisa has 330 105 students eligible for funding but provided registration records for only 155 979 students;
. Wits University only provided registration data for 9 813 students out of 14 733 who are eligible for funding;
. The University of Zululand has 22 363 students eligible but data for only 11 009 has been received; and
. Walter Sisulu University has 35 831 students eligible for funding but Nsfas only received registration for 16 375 students.
According to the report, without valid registration records from institutions no allowance can be released to students.
“Nsfas cannot release funds for students it has not received registration records for as it needs the confirmation that the student is indeed registered at a public university or college. This information is also necessary for the entity to know whether it is a TVET or university student, what the tuition costs are and which allowances will be applicable.
“The scheme also needs this information to validate the qualifications. This is one of the most significant dependencies Nsfas has on institutions,” reads the report.
Since early this year, students have been expressing their frustrations on social media that they are yet to receive their funding on Nsfas.
This week alone, students were on Twitter complaining that they have no food and some said they had not paid their rent because they were yet to receive their Nsfas funding.
In the report, Nsfas acknowledged that receiving information late from institutions had dire consequences for students.
“The impact on the student is devastating, with many having to go without allowances for an extended part of the year. This is often blamed on Nsfas when in fact the scheme is not at fault.”
The scheme, which provides funding to all 26 public universities, also said that institutions also submitted poor quality registration data which had to be sent back and this caused further delays for students’ payouts.