NSFAS Reports that Over a Million Students are Eligible for Funding

Recently NSFAS has discovered that there are over a million students that are eligible for funding. The high number of students can come as a challenge to the organization but, they say that they are working to continue to fund as many students as they possibly can. 


The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has recorded that over a million students are eligible for the NSFAS bursary.

The total of students eligible for NSFAS in the 2021 academic year is 1 263 672. NSFAS Board Chair person, Ernest Khosa says that, 712 428 of the total are first time students while 551 243 are returning students.

Before 2018, NSFAS was a student loan rather than a bursary scheme as it is now. Khosa says, that despite the challenges that presented itself due to this change the organization continues to grow and support as many South African students as it possibly can. 

He says: 

To illustrate, in 2017, there were 254 826 students funded and 40 564 graduates were produced. In 2018 these number grew by 84% leading to 361 449 students funded, and 59 249 graduates were produced.

Though there has been success, the challenges will continue to present itself and this will affect the overall experience of the students funded by NSFAS. 

The challenges include: 

  • Student funding shortages;
  • Student centred model – delays in funding decisions, appeals processing, disbursements; weak queries resolution mechanism; policy issues such as the N+ 2 rule, absentee parents, postgraduate funding, student accommodation etc.;
  • Organisational structure that is not aligned to student centred model, lack of consequence management, lack institutional performance management;
  • Negative audit outcomes; and
  • Systems that are not fully responsive to the core business of the organisation.

 NSFAS board is currently working on different funding mechanisms and a fund-raising scheme in order to avoid having to shutdown the organization. Khosa explains:

On student cantered model, we have commissioned an application system and process that will make real time funding eligibility decisions; appeals will be immediate for new students and for continuing students a new appeal portal will be introduced in the second semester which will assist in timely decision making.

Khosa says that over the next three months the NSFAS board will be reviewing the organizational structure in order to align it to the student-cantered model.

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