The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has provisionally approved more than 70,000 bursary applications from students. This is significant because the 2024 NSFAS bursary application period has only been open for one week.
Students who are provisionally approved for NSFAS funding are judged to have met all the eligibility criteria for a NSFAS bursary. However, they will only officially begin receiving funding when they are registered in an approved programme at a university or TVET College.
However, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has sent a stern warning to students who attempt to defraud NSFAS. In recent years, NSFAS has lost millions of rands as they funded students who provided inaccurate information in order to be approved for NSFAS funding.
Please let's not use this to take a chance because we're going to check if you rob Nur we're going to come for you
An investigation indicated that at least 40,000 students were possibly funded inappropriately by the NSFAS. This cost the scheme over R5 billion.
The Special Investigating unit stated that these students are from households that earn more than the cut-off of R350 000, and “therefore would not qualify for NSFAS funding, based on the funding rules”.
These students did not submit their parents' details upon application and therefore the means test was not properly conducted.
The minister said students would lie about their parental information or say they are not supported by their parents to get funding from NSFAS. They added that parents often send their children to expensive private schools but seek government funding when sending their children to universities.
We really need to urge students and parents not to do that, I've always said this and I do actually want to repeat it in some instances we have got parents who have sent their their own kids to some of the most expensive private schools in South Africa … but when it comes to University they come, some of them and say this child is being looked after by the granny
No Documents Required When Applying For NSFAS
This warning came after the minister announced that students would not be required to submit supporting documents when applying for NSFAS bursaries in 2024. While students don’t have to submit documents, NSFAS will still verify their eligibility status through relationships with third parties.
A NSFAS representative explained that the NSFAS system will verify critical student information through third-party partners including their identity with the Department of Home Affairs and their financial eligibility with the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
NSFAS opened the 2024 application period late to align with the conclusion of the SARS tax season. This will allow NSFAS to check students' financial eligibility with the latest data available.
Only in cases where the NSFAS validation process fails will applicants be requested to provide the necessary documents.
Students have until 31 January 2024 to submit a NSFAS bursary application.