NSFAS Won't Be Changing How Accommodation Allowances Are Paid

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The accommodation allowance from NSFAS ensures students don't have to travel great distances everyday to attend classes at university or college. However, students have called for a change to the accommodation policy. 

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The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) plays a critical role in ensuring that hundreds of thousands of students have everything they need to pursue their academic goals at public tertiary institutions in South Africa. In recent weeks, students have made calls for NSFAS to deviate from their funding policy.

NSFAS provides comprehensive bursaries and student loans to eligible students enrolled in approved programmes at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges in South Africa. 

The funding provided by NSFAS includes money for tuition and registration fees. NSFAS also provides allowances for living expenses such as food and stationery as well as money for accommodation for students who require it. 

Recently, the NSFAS Board was confronted with student demands insisting that accommodation allowances should be paid directly to them rather than to institutions or landlords. This request clashes with NSFAS funding protocols. 

The NSFAS Board has been informed of students demanding change from the accommodation allowances and that it should be paid to them and not to institutions or landlords. This demand is not in line with NSFAS funding guidelines.   

The NSFAS funding model, which has set caps at R50,000 for accommodation in Metro areas and R41,000 for Non-Metro areas, emphasises payments up to these caps for accredited and graded properties. 

The NSFAS board said students should not expect any deviations from this. 

NSFAS can pay anything up to the cap provided that the property is accredited and graded. It must be noted that NSFAS is paying for the value of the property. As a result, students must not expect any “CHANGE”, from either the institutions or the landlords.  

NSFAS Accommodation Allowances 

In a policy update for the 2024 academic year, NSFAS, with approval of the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Blade Nzimande, confirmed the new accommodation capping following extensive sector research. 

The confirmed capping stands at R50,000 annually for Metro institutions and R41,000 annually for Non-Metro institutions. Despite a decrease from R45,000 in 2023 to R41,000 in 2024, NSFAS clarifies that this adjustment was informed by thorough research.

Acknowledging the drop in funding, NSFAS has encouraged institutions and accommodation providers in Non-Metro areas to submit proposals justifying increases in the capping, with these submissions set to be deliberated and determined by the Board.

It should be noted that NSFAS has also encouraged institutions and accommodation providers in the Non-Metros to make submissions motivating for the increase in the capping and these will be discussed and decided by the Board.   

Transportation Challenges

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) funding guidelines stipulate that students can only qualify for either accommodation allowance or transport allowance. 

The guidelines also state that landlords residing within a 5 km radius and beyond are obligated to provide transportation to students, ensuring their commute to and from campuses.

NSFAS urges landlords to adopt an open-door policy in collaborating with Transport Associations, facilitating constructive engagements. NSFAS has pledged to support and provide platforms for such interactions wherever feasible.

Issues of transport are complicated, and this is a space that is highly regulated hence we would encourage Landlords to have an open-door policy as they engage Transport Associations. As far as possible NSFAS will assist and provide platforms for engagements. 

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NSFAS provides comprehensive bursaries to more than one million students studying at institutions in South Africa. The bursary scheme want to ensure students across the country can easily access NSFAS. 


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