What Are The NSFAS Requirements For Returning Students?

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Are you a returning student seeking funding for your tertiary studies? NSFAS may be the bursary for you, here are the requirements for returning students. 


The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is a government bursary which provides financial aid to disadvantaged students who plan on studying at South African public universities or TVET colleges. 

NSFAS funding is also provided to students who previously studied without funding from the bursary scheme. 

They have funding criteria which each applicant has to meet in order to qualify for the NSFAS bursary. After the #FeesMustFall, the NSFAS funding criteria changed.

Currently the requirements for NSFAS funding are as follows: 

  • Must be a South African Citizen
  • Sassa Grant Recipients qualify immediately
  • Combined household income of R350 000 or less per annum
  • If you are living with a disability, you need to have a combined household income of R600 000 or less per annum

Its important to note that the NSFAS requirements for returning students have been updated for 2024. 

As of 2024, continuing and First Time Entering Students (FTEN) university students must achieve a credit pass rate of 50%. Continuing and FTEN university students must achieve a course credit pass rate of 60% for the end of the 2024 academic year to succeed academically for the 2025 funding year

NSFAS covers registration, tuition and provides students with various allowances. These allowances cover transport, living expenses and learning materials.

The allowances for Universities and TVET Colleges differ. 

University Allowances 


  • Living Allowance
    • R16 500 per year (R3045 personal care allowance + R13,455 meal allowance)
  • NSFAS Accommodation Allowance 2024
    • Institution owned or leased accommodation and private accommodation allowance in metro areas will be capped at R50 000 per annum. Accommodation in other areas will be capped at R41 000 per annum
    • Institution-catered accommodation will have their accommodation allowances capped at R66 500 in metro areas and R57 500 in all other areas per annum.
    • Institutions in non-metro areas can request that NSFAS review these caps in exceptional circumstances.
  • Travel allowance 
    • Students who make their own accommodation arrangements or live with relatives won’t qualify for an accommodation allowance but would then qualify for a NSFAS travel allowance, up to a maximum of R7 875 per annum
  • Learning material allowance (NSFAS Book Allowance 2024)
    • All university students qualify for a learning material allowance which is set at a maximum of R5 460. This is a once-off payment at the beginning of the academic year for the purchase of books and devices.

TVET College allowances 

The TVET college living allowance is R10,000 per annum.

TVET college's self-catered accommodation in metro areas is capped at R60,000 and in other areas is capped at R51,000. This is calculated on a per-annum basis. 

Students who opt to make their own accommodation arrangements with immediate family or with relatives do not qualify for the accommodation allowance. Instead, these students qualify for a travel allowance determined by the institution, up to a maximum of R7,875 in 2024. 

TVET College students may either qualify for the travel allowance or the accommodation allowance. 

TVET College students who are registered on an occupational qualification may qualify for allowances ONLY if in simulated training, students registered on an occupational qualification that have an employment contract and are paid stipend do not qualify for NSFAS allowances. 

The TVET College learning material allowance is included in the cost of tuition.

Students who are in their second year of studying or who have studied without NSFAS funding can also apply as long as they have not received any other types of funding, however those who have previously completed a qualification cannot apply. 


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