Is NSFAS A Bursary Or Loan?

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When applying to tertiary institutions, there is always a concern about how you will pay the tuition. This is when you may come across NSFAS. To find out whether it is a bursary or loan, keep on reading...

NSFAS has been offering comprehensive bursaries to students wanting to obtain a tertiary education qualification for the last few years.  These bursaries have supported over five million students enrolled in approved programmes at public universities and TVET colleges, covering tuition, registration fees, and various allowances.

Accommodation, meal, and stationery allowances are part of NSFAS's support package. Eligible students, South African citizens from households with a combined income of up to R350,000 per year (R600,000 for those with disabilities), can specify their needs on the online application form.

The 2024 launch of the Comprehensive Student Funding Model by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande addresses the "missing middle" – students whose household income exceeds the threshold but struggle with education costs. This model aims to fill the gap for those ineligible for NSFAS bursaries by providing government-supported students loans under the umbrella term of student loans.

Therefore, the answer to the question Is NSFAS a bursary or loan is simple, NSFAS offers comprehensive bursaries and student loans. Students will qualify for one of these funding models based on their household income. 

Despite surpassing the income threshold, missing middle students face financial challenges in pursuing higher education. The Comprehensive Funding Model seeks to rectify this by offering loans to bridge the financial gap.

Unlike NSFAS Bursaries, NSFAS student loans are also available for postgraduate study programmes. 

In essence, NSFAS's bursaries cover a wide range of expenses, while the NSFAS extends support to the missing middle through government-backed loans who have a household income above R350,000 per annum. This dual approach reflects NSFAS's commitment to fostering equitable access to higher education in South Africa.

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pamphlet about nsfas appeals

Every year, thousands of students apply for NSFAS funding. Unfortunately, every applicant won't make it but NSFAS does offer a second chance through NSFAS appeals.


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