NSFAS Pulled Funding From Thousands Of Students - Here's Why

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A number of students funded by NSFAS have been left unhappy after the scheme cut off funding for their studies. These students claim that their application statuses randomly changed from approved to rejected. 

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Over the past few weeks, several students have raised concerns saying that have been left in limbo, claiming their NSFAS statuses suddenly changed from "approved" applicants to "rejected".

The students say they were approved by the bursary scheme and had been receiving their monthly NSFAS allowances since the beginning of the year, but payments stopped in May.

Remedial Process

On Monday, NSFAS spokesperson Slumezi Skosana said that acting upon the findings of the Auditor-General, their internal compliance processes and the observations of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), NSFAS had initiated a remedial process where students found to have been funded based on incorrect information were defunded instantly.

This comes after it was revealed earlier this year that NSFAS spent R5 billion over four years on students who did not qualify for the funding. An investigation done revealed that about 40 000 students whoreceived funding between 2018 to 2021 were not actually eligible for funding.

It was revealed that these applicants had falsified their information to unduly benefit from the funding scheme.

NSFAS said this is done to avoid wrongful and illegal allocation of funds to students, who fall outside the prescription of the entity’s policies. 

The prescriptions of our policies and the law will be implemented firmly and vigorously to avoid a repeat of the more than R5 billion that was allocated incorrectly to students since 2016.

NSFAS Verification 

Skosana says that the bursary scheme is currently verifying all information submitted by these students. 

He explained that if the information provided by students is not consistent with information sourced from other government entities like the South African Revenue Service (SARS) the Department of Home Affairs, or the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), the student will be defunded. 

Applicants would misrepresent their information to say that they actually earn less than that [R350,000 household income threshold] when in fact they earn more than that.

Furthermore, Skosana said the scheme had received complaints that some students were defunded incorrectly.

He says, “If such cases are true, this is regrettable. A process of verifying these complaints will be immediately initiated and if proven, remedial action will be taken.”

Direct Payments System Concerns

According to the bursary scheme the new NSFAS direct payment system was introduced to ensure that funded students receive their allowances for food, transportation, and other living expenses in a secure and seamless way.

However, students have already expressed frustration noting that the onboarding process has been everything but ‘seamless’, with some questioning communication around the new system, high banking service costs and why it was implemented at universities in the middle of the academic year.

Other concerns raised by students include:

  • Inaccessibility of the service providers.
  • Lack of clarity on how to access funds.
  • Allegations of funds not reaching their intended beneficiaries.

Responding to concerns on the issue of direct payments, Skosana said the scheme would not allow a system that was established in good faith to be muddled with activities that defeat the purpose of direct payment.

NSFAS says that the transaction costs/ charges are standard across all partners.

An investigation of these complaints will be conducted, and where the allegations are proven true, appropriate action will be taken. Service providers will be instructed to increase their physical presence at institutions of higher learning.

He adds, "There should be an immediate enhancement of explanations on how students can access their funds to avoid delays in the distribution of allowances."

Meanwhile, students have been urged to complete their onboarding process to speedily access their NSFAS bank accounts by going to the NSFAS website, under the heading “For Students and Learners” click on NSFAS Bank account (under student support).

There they will find the name of their institution and can click on the register here button and then follow the prompts.

On Tuesday, a three-way meeting between student leaders, NSFAS management and service providers was held to iron out all relevant matters.

Suggested Article:

NSFAS student challenges

A number of students funded by NSFAS have alleged that their application statuses randomly changed from approved to rejected. As a result, student bodies across the country have highlighted a number of funding related issues that need to be addressed.

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