Bursaries are sometimes difficult to come by and many have a household income thresholds that many students don't qualify for. However, it's been seen that these very students are also unable to pay for their fees out of their pockets.
In response to this, the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) was established, to provide the ISFAP bursary to missing middle students. Careers Portal sat down with the ISFAP Regional Programme Manager, Sifanele Biyela, to talk all things ISFAP.
ISFAP aims to contribute to the economy by ensuring that they produce well-rounded professionals at the end of their beneficiaries' studies.
What does it cover?
The ISFAP bursary covers your tuition fees, accommodation, food, learning materials such as your calculator and textbooks, a living allowance and pocket money. They also provide non-academic student support in the form of a project manage being available to support you, tutorial support, life support, admin support, life skills training as well as staff mentors.
This is what ISFAP refers to as wrap-around support as their funding support goes further than just your fees.
And how many ISFAP bursaries are available every year?
Speaking to Sifanele, it was revealed that ISFAP doesn't have a cut off for how many bursaries they offer every year. She explained that it depends on the funding available, "so how ISFAP is funded is we are majority privately funded and then we do get some funding from a few SETAs".
They are therefore driven by funder requirements. The commitments they get from their funders for the year is what drives the amount of students they are able to offer bursaries to.
This does however mean that not all students who apply and qualify will receive funding:
It's unfortunate that it is never all of the students that apply that we can cater to so the gap is really still that big in terms of the needs of the missing middle students.
At the moment, ISFAP's applications don't speak to their allocations, said Biyela.
How does ISFAP funding work?
ISFAP is not a government-funded organisation and, as mentioned, they rely on private donations and funding from SETAs. ISFAP approaches private entities and ask for funding on behalf of students.
"So we have a fundraising department and the fundraising department, we are essentially professional beggars in our way, on behalf of our students," explains Biyela.
The ISFAP bursary definitely shows that these funders are receiving value for their money, with them investing in a a programme that's thriving and provides support to students who need support.