Deputy President Paul Mashatile believes that a proposal outlining a new funding model for student funding will be presented to the Cabinet by the conclusion of 2023. The funding model is set to incorporate funding solutions for students who do not meet the eligibility criteria for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursaries.
The Deputy President was responding to questions in the National Assembly on Thursday where he emphasised the government's commitment to ensuring that any new funding scheme accommodates the "missing middle," enabling them to secure loans for their educational expenses.
The “missing middle” refers to students who come from households that exceed the NSFAS household income threshold. While they are considered “too rich” for NSFAS, they cannot afford the costs associated with higher education.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzidmande explained that its main objective is to implement measures specifically targeting students within the missing middle-income groups by offering loans to missing middle students, particularly those enrolled in scarce skills categories.
Mashatile added that another objective for the implementation of the comprehensive student funding model is to prevent students from dropping out of university due to financial challenges while extending support to existing students.
The proposed funding model seeks to ensure that in the new academic year, particularly 2024, there will be the following: a retention of existing funding for poor students in the income bracket of R0 to R350,000 per annum per household, [and] a funding strategy for the missing middle, which includes engaging with the financial sector to support by providing loans to students within that bracket.
Challenges At NSFAS
NSFAS has been under the spotlight in recent months. Challenges related to students being unable to access their monthly allowances and the dismissal of the former CEO due to irregular procurement are a cause for concern.
The Minister of Higher Education did present that model to Cabinet. He has been working hard with his team to ensure that we do meet the demands of our students
NSFAS 2024 Applications Opening Soon
NSFAS announced that 2024 applications will commence on Tuesday, 21 November 2023. Prospective students can submit their online NSFAS application until 31 January 2024 on the official NSFAS website.