Missing Middle Continues To Struggle With Funding

Missing middle students continue to struggle with financial aid and being financially excluded. The state requires a national system to be implemented for this problem to be solved. 

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Missing middle students are still struggling with financial exclusion and the state is trying to figure out ways that they can be accounted for.

The missing middle is a group of students whose household income is between R350 000 and R600 000. These students are too rich to be funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) but too poor to fund their own tertiary education. 

Many of these students are currently in the predicament of being financially excluded because of historic debt. The amount of students that are considered to be a part of the missing middle is roughly 86 000, while 575 000 students are being funded by NSFAS.

Funding strategies to accommodate for the missing middle have to still not been implemented. In an interview with CapeTalk, Dr Linda Meyer, Director of Operations and Sector Support of Universities South Africa (USAf) says:

These [missing middle] students are left completely out of the loop. This is the [reason for] perpetual protests that we see every year because these students have historic debt, they have bad debt and they are unable to raise registration fees and make minimum payments for entry into universities.

Dr Meyer believes that a national system needs to be implemented in order to solve this problem and that banks are being spoken to with regards to lower interest student loans.

Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Buti Manamela says that:

Firstly, we already have more than 54% of students whose parents are earning more than 350 000 per annum funded by the state, secondly that number will increase to about 60%. 

The amount is said to increase because of the more than 2 million jobs that were lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As the years pass, more and more students require financial aid for their students and the fight for free education continues. The amount of student that are categorized as the missing middle is increasing every year. 

"These proliferated interventions, if it is not in a coherent system where we address a financially stable model that is underpinned by policy certainty, this problem is not going to go away.", says Dr Meyer

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