NSFAS Provides Further Clarity On N+ Rule

NSFAS Provides Further Clarity On N+ Rule

NSFAS has provided clarity on how the N+ rule works to clear up any confusion students still have. Read further to find out more. 


The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is a government bursary available to underprivileged South African students who are looking to study at a public university or TVET College in the country. 

They provide funding for registration, tuition and various allowances. These allowances cover transport, living expenses and learning materials.

NSFAS will fund students based on the duration of their course or degree, however they have granted students an extra year of funding if they were to fail one year. 

NSFAS makes use of the N+1 rule which means that students only have N+1 years to finish a degree. 

“N” is minimum number of years allocated to complete a qualification (i.e. record time). The “+1” refers to the extra year that a student may need to complete the qualification (making the maximum time). 

NSFAS has clarified that the N+1 rule refers to all the years that a student has been registered for tertiary study at any public university in South Africa, and not based on whether the student was funded by NSFAS or not. This rule also applies regardless of an institution change. 

For example: where a qualification is three years, NSFAS will allow you to be funded for a four-year period, with the extra year being the [+1].

When NSFAS states the reason for your unsuccessful funding application as: ‘you have exceeded the N+1 rule’, this means you have been studying longer than the minimum allocated time for your as well as the extra two years you have been given to complete your qualification.

NSFAS however may be sympathetic towards students. If students have exceeded the number of years allowed for funding but only require a few courses/modules to complete their qualification, they can appeal to NSFAS as well as speak to the financial aid officers at their respective institutions and they could possibly be funded. 

The N+ rule exists so that NSFAS gives students enough time to complete their undergraduate degrees but also so that students may finish their degrees within a specified time to allow others to also be funded by NSFAS. 

NSFAS has said that it is unfair for students to be funded for a very long time as this would leave NSFAS to be incapable of funding less new students and taking away those opportunities of new students who are entering the system. 

This article was updated on 23/8/21.


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