Why NSFAS Reduced TVET College Allowances For 2024

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Thousands of TVET College students rely on NSFAS allowances to enable them to study and obtain a tertiary education qualification. One of the allowances provided by NSFAS has been reduced. 

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The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has received criticism for reducing the allowances received by some funded students in 2024. The 2024 allowances for some Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college students are less than it was in 2023. 

NSFAS offers comprehensive bursaries and student loans to deserving students enrolled in approved courses at public universities and TVET colleges. This funding includes money for tuition and registration fees as well as several allowances for students. 

The financial aid scheme also provides an accommodation allowance to students who require it. This accommodation allowance ensures that students are not prevented from obtaining their qualification because of where they live which may have prevented them from attending lectures regularly. 

NSFAS 2024 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.   

Many TVET college students are upset that their accommodation allowance was reduced from the amount they received in 2023. 

NSFAS spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi explained that the reduced accommodation cap for TVET college students is based on a comprehensive process that involves grading accommodations and aligning allowances with the location of the institutions. 

We started grading accommodation to determine allowances that we are paying to our institutions, both universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. 

Mnisi mentioned that they conducted a grading process from A to E for accommodations, which was linked to the amount of allowance a student would receive based on their location, whether in a metropolitan or non-metropolitan area.

We came up with a grading process. In our accommodation we grade them from A to E and the grading is aligned to the amount of an allowance the student will get depending on where they are located whether in a metro or non metro area. 

They stress that the decision to reduce the accommodation cap was not arbitrary; and that it was supported by a scientific process that NSFAS embarked upon. This process involved examining data, conducting workshops, and assessing research conducted by entities like the International Finance Corporation. 

They were subjected to that process, ultimately, the new rates we gave out were the ones that were supported through that process of research. 

Additionally, Mnisi revealed that NSFAS sought concurrence from the DHET, and the decision was ultimately approved by the minister.

Accommodation Cap Controversy

The introduction of an accommodation cap has caused dissatisfaction among students since it was first introduced in 2023

At the time NSFAS emphasised that the introduction of an accommodation cap of R45,000 was based on credible research and evidence, including input from banking institutions that consider the local market and other available data. 

NSFAS acknowledged there was a need for further work to determine relevant variables in line with minimum norms and standards for student accommodation, as well as grading that would enable amounts to be paid by NSFAS above the cap.

The introduction of the cap also meant that many students living in metropolitan areas like the Buffalo City Metro, the City of Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay to name a few could not afford accommodation. 

The financial aid scheme engaged with institutions that were negatively affected by the cap to find solutions for funded students who could not be accommodated within the cap limits. In 2024, this meant that accommodation allowances varied depending on the type of accommodation, whether students received meals from the accommodation provider and where the accommodation was located. 

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