Everything you need to know about your NSFAS allowance

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Do you know which study costs are included in the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)?

There are many expenses associated with higher education besides tuition. For example, students may need to purchase specific learning materials, while others may require accommodation during their period of study. NSFAS aims to cover any extra costs through its student allowance system.

What is a student allowance?

Students who qualify for a government bursary will be eligible to receive funding for study-related expenses, this is known as a student allowance. NSFAS beneficiaries are provided with a student allowance on a monthly basis. These allowances are paid in cash, either directly to the student via NSFAS Wallet or via the institution to the student. Allowances are subject to annual increases determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Students are funded according to their specific university needs and expenses. NSFAS will typically start paying allowances to qualified students at the end of January when academic activities resume.

What type of allowances does NSFAS provide?

According to the NSFAS website, the following allowances are included in the bursary:


  • Accommodation: amount is the actual cost charged by the university. If private, the cost must not exceed costs for university residence.
  • Transport: R7 500 per annum (up to 40 km from institution)
  • Living allowance: R15 000 per annum
  • Book allowance: R5200 per annum (only applies at universities)
  • Personal Care allowance: R2900 per annum



  • Accommodation:
    • in urban area - R24 000 per annum
    • in peri-urban area - R18 900 per annum
    • in rural area - R15 750 per annum 
  • Transport: R7 350 (up to 40 km from institution)
  • Personal Care allowance: R2 900 per annum 

What has changed in the NSFAS allowance system?

NSFAS now incorporates a personal care allowance in its bursary scheme in order to cover the toiletry and sanitary needs of students. Students should also note that NSFAS no longer provides book vouchers for university students. Instead, students are paid a cash allowance to purchase relevant learning materials.

Are student allowances monitored?

NSFAS has no mechanism to monitor students spending of cash allowances. NSFAS believes that students should be treated as adults and have the financial freedom to withdraw the cash voucher and make an informed decision on how to best utilise the funds. Students need to spend their allowance responsibly and use this opportunity to learn how to manage their money.

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