NSFAS Bank Account Cards Can Be Used Anywhere, Says Minister

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The National Student Financial Aid Scheme is committed to ensuring deserving students receive funding for their tertiary education journey. Who is deserving of this funding and how they will access has been reaffirmed by the higher education minister. 

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Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande issued a joint statement with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) this week to update the public on funding for the 2023 academic year and the disbursement of allowances to students. 

NSFAS provides comprehensive bursaries to students from poor and working-class households. These NSFAS bursaries will cover a student’s tuition and registration fees for an approved programme at a public university or Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college. 

In addition to covering a student's tuition and registration fees, NSFAS also provides students with several NSFAS allowances to cover the costs of accommodation, meals and learning materials.. 

In 2023, NSFAS will fund over one million students with a budget of more than R40 billion. 

Minister Nzimande emphasised the pivotal role of NSFAS plays in the post-school education and training sector. This as the scheme plays a significant role in ensuring equal access and success for students from economically challenged backgrounds, enabling them to pursue their studies and attain their first tertiary education qualification.

Student-Centred NSFAS Model 

Nzimande has called on stakeholders to provide their support for NSFAS’ implementation of a student-centred model. This student-centred model aims to reduce the number of role-players when it comes to paying NSFAS allowances. 

This model is centred around an approach that places the needs of students at the heart of the scheme’s operations but also streamlining all processes that affect the disbursement of funds for tuition, transport, food and accommodation.

NSFAS Bank Account 

A major component of the student-centred model is the introduction of the NSFAS bank account for the direct payment of NSFAS allowances. NSFAS teams up with four service providers that would facilitate the direct payment of allowances from NSFAS to deserving students. 

Students are required to onboard themselves onto the service providers’ systems in order to access their NSFAS allowances. Failure to do this will result in students not receiving their money for books, stationery, accommodation, transport and meals. 

NSFAS has noted that some students have been unable to authenticate themselves on the service provider’s systems due to connectivity issues. As a result, NSFAS has sent teams to campuses to assist students with their authentication and verification process.

The Minister is calling on all students to onboard themselves onto the new allowance payment system which will allow them to access their allowances. 

Minister Nzimande calls upon all students who have not verified themselves to work with these NSFAS teams who have been deployed to various campus to finalise the authentication process so that they can access their allowances.

NSFAS Bank Allowance Challenges 

The new direct payment allowance payment system was implemented at universities around South Africa a few months ago. However, its implementation has encountered several challenges 

The direct allowance payment system was introduced to streamline the process of paying allowances to  students while giving them confidence that allowances will be paid. However, several challenges have arisen with students struggling to grapple with the new payment system. 

Students have complained about exorbitant bank charges being charged by service providers and the inability to access their allowances 

Bank Account Fees For NSFAS Students 

Nzimande confirmed that students will be charged a monthly banking fee of R12 to use their NSFAS bank account. In addition to this, this will be required to pay money transfer costs when transferring money to other banking accounts and pay additional banking fees. 

Bank charges are inevitable, however NSFAS negotiated for a R12 monthly bank charge, which excludes money transfer costs to other banks. In addition, NSFAS beneficiaries can use their banks cards anywhere within South Africa at any retailers and ATMs

The NSFAS Board also debunked as misleading and untrue reports that NSFAS disbursed incorrect amounts to beneficiaries. This comes after several reports indicated that NSFAS paid incorrect allowances to students leaving them with less money to use during the month. 

Defunding Thousands Of Students 

Calls are being made for NSFAS to continue collaborating with other government entities to verify information submitted by students. This as some students were found to have submitted false information during their NSFAS Application in order to secure NSFAS funding. 

During 2023, NSFAS have defunded more than 40,000 students said to have been undeserving and dishonest. Dishonest students had their funding revoked and face several consequences for defrauding NSFAS

The NSFAS Board confirmed that after re-evaluation of funding, 14 703 bursary applications were reinstated and 31 224 remained disqualified. These students reportedly do not meet the NSFAS bursary eligibility criteria set by NSFAS or exceed the N+Rule.

The meeting agreed that NSFAS must continue to work with other government entities such as the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) South African Revenue Services (SARS) and the Department of Home affairs to verify information submitted and to ensure the correct processing of students' applications. 

The Board confirmed that all those who were disqualified from receiving funding have been given an opportunity to appeal and submit supporting documents. These NSFAS appeals are subject to funding availability. 

Suggested Article:

Boland College

The government has made funding available for students to pursue higher education through the NSFAS bursary. However, many students have wondered whether NSFAS extends its funding to cover courses at Boland College.

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