Students Take Legal Action Against NSFAS N+ Rule

Students are now taking legal action against the NSFAS N+ rule. They have said that there are thousands of deserving students who qualify for funding who are being rejected due to the rule and that it is being implemented incorrectly.

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A group of students called the 'N+2 Affected Students of South Africa' are now taking legal action against the Department of Higher Education and it's Minister, Blade Nzimande, over the NSFAS N+ rule.

Students are calling the way the rule is implemented, "erratic" and "unjust".

The group is speaking on behalf of thousands of students have had their funding and allowances withdrawn or rejected by NSFAS for the 2021 academic year "as a result of the incorrect application of the N+2 rule by NSFAS".

They have said that NSFAS has incorrectly applied the rule in the following ways:

  • in determining whether or not the Affected Students had exceeded the maximum number of years in terms of which they are eligible to be funded by NSFAS, it has incorporated the years when the Affected Students were not funded by NSFAS. Such a determination, we submit, is incorrect, as NSFAS has to, in applying the N+2 rule, only take into account the number of years the respective students were funded by NSFAS
  • it has, in determining whether or not the Affected Students had exceeded the maximum number of years in terms of which they can be funded by NSFAS, incorporated the year/s when the Affected Students had been deregistered and thus not studying (therefore not being funded by NSFAS)

The statement detailing the reasons behind the legal action then states that due to the rule being applied incorrectly in the above ways, students who deserve and qualify for funding are not being funded.

Those who have been able to register to study do not have funds to finance their studies for 2021, even though they are eligible to obtain funding from NSFAS for the 2021 academic year ... The Affected Students have been deprived of their right to education.

The students have therefore demanded that the department reverses or suspends all N+2 defunding decisions of 29 000 students in 2020 by 13 April.

A member of the group, Sabelo Mtyana, said:

We are of the view that if DHET insists on counting years for which they did not pay towards the N+ years, we will go to court to have that decision reviewed and set aside.

The N+2 rule means that students only have N+2 years to finish a degree. “N” is minimum number of years allocated to complete a qualification (i.e. record time). The “+2” refers to the extra two years that a student may need to complete the qualification (making the maximum time).

After being changed from a loan scheme to a bursary scheme in 2018, NSFAS changed the N+2 rule to the N+1 rule now only allowing students one additional year to finish their studies.

The Careers Portal has requested a response from NSFAS but the financial aid scheme failed to respond.

To view the full details of the legal action being taken, click here.

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