NSFAS Board Dissolution And Allowance Payment Delays Are A Huge Concern, says ISFAP

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More than one million students receive NSFAS allowances monthly. However, the payment of allowances has not been efficient over the last few months and a private bursary scheme has offered to assist NSFAS ensure students are paid their bursaries on time. 

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The Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) has expressed its concern regarding the dissolution of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board. The organisation is now offering to help NSFAS put systems in place to support the execution of its vital tasks to ensure that deserving students receive their funding.  

NSFAS provides comprehensive bursaries and student loans to deserving students enrolled in approved courses at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. NSFAS funding not only includes money for tuition and registration fees but also includes several allowances for food, accommodation and learning materials.

In recent months, challenges with the scheme's administration have had a negative impact on its beneficiaries as students were forced to navigate their tertiary education without their allowances. These challenges led Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to dissolve the NSFAS board as they failed to deal with these challenges. 

CEO of ISFAP, Morné du Toit acknowledges that NSFAS plays a critical role in assisting vulnerable people to pay for education which in essence could change their lives. They explain that ISFAP has developed advanced systems and processes when it comes to student funding.

ISFAP also offers funding to students, however, on a smaller scale than NSFAS.

Private sector organisations and everyone behind them are willing to help and we certainly are putting up our hands and saying ‘If we can be of any assistance, we would love to be there’. 

Du Toit says while the dissolution of the NSFAS board is concerning, it was not entirely unexpected as the scheme continues to battle administrative challenges and corruption allegations.

"We are very concerned that the mandate NSFAS performs is extremely important given the context of our country and the importance of higher education as an opportunity for young people to change their trajectories," said the ISFAP CEO.

NSFAS Corruption Allegations

Earlier in 2024, serious allegations of corruption surfaced regarding NSFAS. The claims centred on Minister Nzimande, former NSFAS Board Chair Ernest Khosa, and the Communist Party. The accusations involved kickbacks received for awarding lucrative contracts to fintech companies responsible for student allowance payments.

The minister recognized the challenges within NSFAS and admitted to the scheme losing millions due to fraud and mismanagement

To address these problems, he appointed an administrator Freeman Nomvalo whose primary focus is ensuring timely allowance payments to students. 

Du Toit adds that ISFAP welcomes the appointment of Nomvalo who previously occupied a position on their board. 

We are hoping that because he knows what we can do, there might be an opportunity for us to help. 

Payment Of NSFAS Allowances 

It is estimated that more than one million students are currently recipients of NSFAS funding and rely on allowances to survive monthly. 

Du Toit says the payment of allowances on time should be the main concern of NSFAS. They explain that the consequences of unpaid NSFAS allowances leave many students in a dire situation. 

We are looking at poor students who literally will not have something to eat if those allowances are not paid on time. You cannot even start to think about students being successful in their academic pursuits if they don’t even have their basic needs taken care of.

In addition to ensuring NSFAS allowances are paid on time, Du Toit says the scheme must address accommodation challenges.

They explain the introduction of accommodation caps as well as the accreditation of accommodation is proving to be a challenge for NSFAS. 

These are all things that have significantly impacted students, all we want to see is someone coming in taking charge of the situation and once and for all resolving these issues so that students can get the help and the support they need.  

Suggested Article:

Malema wants NSFAS scrapped

NSFAS ensures that thousands of students can obtain a university qualification through the provision of comprehensive funding. However, the leader of South Africa's third largest political party wants the scheme to be scrapped. 

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