Students Slam NSFAS Following Evictions & Delayed Allowance Payments

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TVET College students were evicted from their residences last week which prompted urgent intervention from NSFAS. Student unions have criticised NSFAS for the challenges that led to student evictions. 

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South African Union of Students spokesperson Asive Dlanjwa is urging the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to address its administration challenges. This comes after the scheme failed to pay NSFAS allowances which led landlords to evict students.

NSFAS provides comprehensive bursaries and student loans to deserving learners enrolled in approved courses at universities and TVET colleges. The funding covers tuition, registration fees, and various allowances for living expenses, learning materials, and accommodation.

The accommodation allowance helps students avoid long commutes. However, NSFAS delays in paying these allowances, exceeding six months, have led to student evictions by landlords at the King Sabata Dalindyebo TVET College.

Dlanjwa says it's unfortunate that these allowance payment challenges occurred when they did. They explain that many of the students would have been participating in their midyear examinations and evictions would have negatively affected their results. 

What we are dealing with is a crisis at a time that is rather unfortunate because this crisis would have begun or heightened during a time when students were engaged in their mid-year examinations, which is unacceptable. 

Dlanjwa says some of the students who were evicted fell under the NSFAS accommodation pilot programme. 

The pilot programme is aimed at ensuring that student accommodation service providers deliver accommodation that is accessible, decent, safe, and academically conducive for all students. NSFAS believes the implementation of the accommodation pilot is a significant step in enhancing and improving the student accommodation landscape in 17 Universities and 23 TVET Colleges for the 2024 academic year. 

However, the implementation of the programme has not been smooth sailing and stakeholders have called for it to be suspended

Dlanjwa adds that some students who fall outside the accommodation pilot programme have also been negatively affected. However, here the blame is placed at the feet of institutions that failed to distribute money from NSFAS to landlords.

Those institutions have not paid that accommodation money to those landlords and the landlords have resulted to evicting some of these students.

The spokesperson added that some students chose to live in unaccredited accommodation which resulted in NSFAS not paying their accommodation allowances. 

Beneficiaries went to live in student accommodations that were not necessarily accredited within institutions that are engaged in the pilot program and so there's not a database of these accommodations. 

Despite the explanations provided as to why students were evicted, Dlanjwa says this ultimate blame must be placed on NSFAS. 

What is clear in this whole situation is that there seems to be a failure and an inability from the side of NSFAS to be able to ensure that after all is said and done, all its beneficiaries have a roof over their head and that they able to participate adequately in teaching and learning and that is where the cracks of the matter is

Dlanjwa says while they are unable to provide an exact figure on how many students have been encountering these challenges, they estimate that thousands of students are at risk. 

We know only of the students who are in this crisis, sometimes only when the students have been evicted but the reality is that we know for a fact that it is thousands of students.  Some of them have not yet been evicted but they have been getting threats of eviction. 

Dlanjwa calls for institutions to be agile in responding to student concerns and ensure they are housed. 

NSFAS Responds 

NSFAS administrator Freeman Nomvalo held a meeting at the Ngcobo KSD campus in which several key stakeholders after news reports amplified the severe challenges being faced by KSD TVET College students . The main challenges are failure to pay NSFAS student allowances and student accommodation providers which led to student evictions.

Nomvalo was briefed on the difficulties relating to the payment of allowances, including those for accommodation. Following thorough discussions, a list of affected students was handed over to NSFAS for processing. 

The meeting concluded with a resolution that payment of student allowances for the Ngcobo campus will commence on 25 June 2024.

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nsfas outreach about nsfas allowance payment dates

With many challenges with NSFAS allowance payments recently coming to surface, NSFAS has said that they are now in the process of paying June NSFAS allowances. These NSFAS allowances are used to pay student accommodation, transport and other student needs.

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