The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is currently accepting applications for the 2024 academic year. While the application period only opened one week ago, thousands of applicants have already been informed that their applications were successful.
Reports indicate that NSFAS has provisionally approved 76,000 NSFAS bursary applications since the start of the 2024 application season. This means that an average of 10,000 students submitted funding applications daily over the last seven days.
NSFAS funds over a million students at public universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. The bursaries are highly sought after as they go beyond covering tuition and registration fees.
Funded students receive several NSFAS allowances to cover costs while they obtain their first tertiary education qualification. This includes an accommodation allowance, meal allowance and a stationery allowance. Alternatively, students may receive a transport allowance if they live close to the institution they are studying at.
Eligible students are urged to apply before the 31 January 2024 deadline. This gives students just over two months to submit their applications.
NSFAS Improves Application Process
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande commended NSFAS on the improvements it made to its systems. It is believed that the enhancements made to the NSFAS application process will ensure students can easily apply for funding.
One of these system enhancements was the capability to provide students with immediate funding decisions.
Last week, NSFAS spokesperson Slumezi Skosana revealed that during the first 24 hours of the 2024 application period, around 4,000 had already been approved for funding.
It's important to note that the students who have been approved for funding will not yet receive any money from NSFAS. They will only begin reaping the benefits of the comprehensive NSFAS bursary once they are registered at a TVET college or university.
Concerns were raised by student leaders about the delayed opening, fearing challenges for applicants.
In 2023, NSFAS revealed that students will not be required to submit supporting documents or matric results when submitting their NSFAS applications.
Skosana clarified that the NSFAS system will verify critical student information through third-party partners, streamlining the process for applicants. This includes verifying parental relationships, financial eligibility and identity information.
Only in cases where the validation process fails will applicants be requested to provide the necessary documents.
You just apply without giving us any documents, and our system will confirm your parental relationships.
Stakeholders raised concerns regarding the relatively late opening of the 2024 application period. NSFAS explained the delay, citing alignment with SARS tax processes for accurate financial information.
Financial requirements stipulate a combined household income not exceeding R350,000 (R600,000 for disabled students). SARS data ensures funding is approved for students who meet this criteria.