Late Start To 2024 NSFAS Applications Sparks Concern Among Student Union

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South Africa's largest bursary scheme has opened 2024 applications. However, student unions have expressed concern with the application period as they fear students may have difficulty applying for the comprehensive bursaries. 

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The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) recently announced the opening of the 2024 bursary application period. Thousands of students are expected to apply for the funding provided by the government bursary scheme. 

The South African Union of Students (SAUS) is calling on all qualifying students to submit NSFAS bursary applications. However, the union have expressed their reservations with the 2024 application period. 

NSFAS is largely recognised as the most important bursary scheme in the country as it assists more than a million financially disadvantaged students to pay for their tertiary education journey. The funding from NSFAS goes beyond just money for tuition and registration fees

Students funded by NSFAS also receive a living allowance, accommodation allowance and a stationery allowance. This means that students only have to focus on their studies and not worry about how they will pay for their enrollment. 

Asive Dlanjwa, the SAUS spokesperson, expressed concern about the timing of the application period. The 2024 NSFAS application period is set to close on 31 January 2023 leaving applicants with just two months to submit their funding applications. 

We highly welcome this, obviously with reservations owing to the fact that it's late.

NSFAS says they opened applications in November 2023 so they can provide NSFAS applications with shorter turn-around times for decision-making. They add that this is aligned to the financial eligibility assessment which requires updated South African Revenue Service (SARS) information. 

To qualify, applicants must be South African, enrolled in an approved course at a public university or TVET college, and not exceed the household income threshold. Household income must not exceed R350,000, or R600,000 for disabled students which is verified using the latest SARS data.

Dlanjwa expressed scepticism about the application period as they fear system glitches could prevent students from applying for funding. They fear a shorter application period with a higher concentration of students on the NSFAS website could lead to system crashes as observed in previous years. 

The fact that it was open late is a testament of their [NSFAS] incompetence but the fact that you've opened late even when NSFAS opens early, [in] October for instance, what would happen is that towards the end of the application [period] the system would often crash because of the high concentration of students that are applying. 

They wanted the 2024 application period to open earlier as it would have allowed students to apply for bursaries whilst schools were open. They add that the late opening of applications could prevent students without internet access from submitting NSFAS applications. 

Schools have been great tools for us for students to have access some to computers and internet for them to be able to apply, some teachers that will assist them to apply

Calls For Increased NSFAS Allowance Payments 

Dlanjwa says SAUS are calling for NSFAS to increase the living allowance to R2000 per month. The current allowance received by students living in non-catered residences is R1,650 per month. 

They explain that while the current allowance was the product of intense negotiations between NSFAS and other stakeholders. This resulted in a 10% increase in the living allowance

The living allowances must be increased. Last year we were able to get a 10% increase, and as much as it might sound like a lot, it was nothing considering the fact that the last time allowances of students had increased was actually in 2018

Dlanjwa says they had called for a R2,000 living allowance last year, however, they settled for a R1,650 monthly allocation. 

Suggested Article:

NSFAS 2024 applications

NSFAS currently funds more than one million students in tertiary education in South Africa. This number is set to grow as the financial aid scheme has officially opened 2024 NSFAS applications. 


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