Students funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) receive several allowances that aim to cover the costs related to their studies. This includes a learning material allowance, a living allowance, and an accommodation allowance.
Minister Nzimande recently announced an across the board increase of 7% for all Nsfas allowances. Of these allowances, the living/food allowance will increase by 10% for the 2023 academic year.
These increases come amid countless appeals from students and student unions, stating that the over the past few years, the monthly allowances were not enough for students to meet their basic needs considering inflation and the rising cost of living.
In a recent statement, the South African Union of Students (SAUS) said they appealed to NSFAS to increase the food allowances of students, as the last time this was done, was in 2018.
Saus noted that the bursary scheme then increased the allowances by 5%, to which they rejected, on the basis that the food afforded by students with the 2018 allowance, had far diminished to them now affording almost 60% of the food they can buy now with that same allowance.
We therefore advocated for a much larger increment, and although we couldn’t get what we’d proposed, we agreed on rather a 10% increment, to which the minister of DHET and the chair of NSFAS board announced in a join media briefing.
After a meeting held with NSFAS and various other stakeholders it was reaffirmed the decision by government to increase living allowances by 10% as per the submission of the union, and not 5%.
Saus continued, "Therefore, the meeting resolved that pending a concurrence with the Minister, all increments shall be processed before the end of this week and paid retrospectively to students at the next “ingenile”."
Furthermore, Nzimande held a meeting with Universities South Africa (USAf) to discuss concerns raised by students at various public universities, including the cap on student accommodation allowances.
NSFAS recently revealed that accommodation allowances paid by the bursary scheme will be capped at R45 000 per annum for all funded students.
Students have expressed that the new allowance limits aren’t feasible because of the rising costs for housing across various geographic areas in the country.
Minister Nzimande said the committee would meet during this week to look at cases and practical solutions for the current student accommodation crisis.