Over 190 000 students eligible for NSFAS

Sunday, January 28, 2018

About 191 000 students are eligible for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) grant.

NSFAS CEO Steven Zwane made the announcement on Friday during an engagement session, where Minister of Higher Education and Training, Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, was hosting the national leadership of the South African Students Congress (SASCO), South African Union of Students (SAUS), Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and (NSFAS).

The engagement, which was held in Park Town, Johannesburg, forms part of department's ongoing consultations with key stakeholders, ahead of the start the 2018 academic year, as well as the smooth implementation of free higher education for the poor and working class South Africans over the next five years.

Zwane said that 191 000 students are eligible for the NSFAS grant, in the category of a diploma and a certificate, to be done via universities of technology and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

“Those [students] are visible to institutions to be able to grant acceptance or not. We’ve communicated to about 58 000 students, [and] those are students, according to the matric results, meets the university criteria. Those students know now that they are funded, and can be able to access the fund.

“By close of business day on Thursday, we’ve increased to 80 000. We prioritise the universities because the majority of students come through that platform. For TVET colleges, each TVET has a NSFAS official on the ground assisting with those applicants,” Zwane said.

On students who have applied at the institutions but not to NSFAS, Zwane said that the institutions have made a decision to pre-approve and accept them.

“We will only reconcile the data much later on our side so that we don’t delay the registration and the application process,” Zwane said.

Allocation for continuing students

Zwane said that NSFAS is now focussed on continued students, and assured Minister Mkhize that the scheme has the allocation, which allows it to fund continuing students and fund 80 000 university students.

“I can assure you that 80 0000 university students would be funded, and 250 000 TVET students would be funded,” Zwane assured.

He added that since the pronouncement of free higher education last year by President Jacob Zuma, NSFAS has hit the ground running.

He said they’ve started to look on two variables, including that if you are a South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) beneficiary, and if you earn less than R350 000 household unit income, you automatically qualify for funding.

“We’ve received an excess of 300 000 applications, a process which would run up until March,” he said.

Minister Mkhize said the department was engaging with the core stakeholders, especially the students, on what the situation on the ground is, and what is working and what is not working.

SASCO Secretary General Lwando Majiza said their hope for the meeting is that the burning question of historically debt would be arrested and burning question on NSFAS extension, has been achieved.

“Our message is that, where there are challenges, let us identify them like this, resolve them and continue because we can no longer be able to waste more time,” said Majiza. – SAnews.gov.za

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