Why NSFAS Student Loan Funding Decisions Are Delayed

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More than 20,000 student applied for NSFAS student loans in 2024. However, only around 600 NSFAS loan applicants have been provided with funding decisions by NSFAS. 

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The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is processing thousands of student loan applications it received for the 2024 academic year. The financial aid scheme is currently collaborating with several entities to streamline the decision-making process. 

NSFAS has announced its collaboration with credit bureaus and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to streamline the application process for NSFAS loans

This collaboration seeks to expedite the processing of NSFAS loan applications by leveraging the resources and expertise of credit bureaus and SARS. By working closely with these entities, NSFAS aims to enhance efficiency and ensure a smoother experience for applicants

The financial aid scheme received 22,954 student loan applications were submitted in 2024. Despite receiving thousands of applications, the scheme has confirmed funding for around 139 students and rejected 476 NSFAS loan applications. 

NSFAS missing middle student loans was launched as part of the Comprehensive Funding Model in January by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. These loans are available to students who do not qualify for NSFAS bursaries and have a household income between R350,000 and R600,000. 

Like NSFAS bursaries, NSFAS student loans are expected to cover tuition and registration fees. They also include several NSFAS allowances for students. This includes an accommodation allowance. 

By working with credit bureaus and SARS, NSFAS is able to verify whether students meet the financial requirements for NSFAS student loans by falling within the loan household income threshold. 

NSFAS Spokesperson, Ismael Mnisi said the scheme is currently reviewing its academic eligibility criteria to ensure that funding is allocated to qualifying applicants.

We are making huge progress, and that's why the numbers trickle in; they change every day. Students can attest to the fact that they are now receiving feedback from NSFAS regarding their funding status.

While NSFAS has yet to confirm the interest rate for the new loan scheme, Mnisi clarified that consultations are underway with the relevant stakeholders, including the Department of Higher Education and Training and banking institutions. 

Mnisi emphasised that the interest rate issue would be resolved before applicants consent to the loan agreement.

A substantial allocation of R3.8 billion has been earmarked to fund the NSFAS loan scheme which allows the scheme to offer 31 000 missing middle student loans in 2024. 

The introduction of this loan scheme by NSFAS represents a significant step towards expanding access to higher education and alleviating financial burdens for students across South Africa. 

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The 2024 academic year has been set in motion but many students are feeling hopeless due to NSFAS delays. Thousands of students are still waiting for NSFAS funding decisions while others have not been paid NSFAS allowances.


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