The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) plays a crucial role in enabling millions of South African students to pursue tertiary education and obtain an undergraduate qualification.
This bursary program offers valuable financial support to students from poor and working-class backgrounds by granting them the opportunity to attend universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme disburses allowances to help students to cover their various educational expenses while they are pursuing their academic goals. These allowances not only ease the burden of costs but also enable students to focus on their studies without worrying about transportation, living expenses, and learning material costs.
Who Qualifies For The NSFAS Bursary?
To qualify for the NSFAS bursary, there are specific criteria that applicants need to meet. The NSFAS bursary is only available to South African students enrolled in approved programmes at public universities and TVET colleges.
NSFAS bursaries are available to students who come from homes with a household income of less than R350,000 per annum. Students living with disabilities may have a household income of R600,000 or less per annum.
Recipients of grants distributed by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) automatically qualify based on their financial eligibility. This means that if an applicant is already receiving benefits from SASSA, they meet the financial requirements for NSFAS assistance.
NSFAS applicants must have a valid email address and cell phone number. These contact details are essential for communication purposes throughout the application and funding process. It allows NSFAS to send important updates, notifications, and requests for documentation to the applicants.
Allowances For University Students
University students benefiting from the NSFAS bursary receive different allowances to meet their specific needs from the student financial aid scheme.
NSFAS will either provide a university student with an accommodation allowance or a transport allowance depending on where they live while they study.
It's important to note that private accommodation expenses are kept in line with university residence costs. NSFAS introduced an accommodation allowance cap to prevent individuals from profiteering off NSFAS students, which would affect students who live in private accommodation the most.
According to the student financial aid scheme, distance university students studying from home would receive different allowances to other university students.
To further support university students, NSFAS provides a living allowance which enables students to cover the cost of their day-to-day needs while pursuing their education. The learning material or book allowances ensure they have the required equipment and textbooks for their courses.
2023 allowances For University Students
- Accommodation: As per the actual costs charged by the university (costs for private accommodation must not exceed costs for university residence)
- Transport (up to 40 km from the institution): R7 500 per year.
- Living allowance: R15 000 per year.
- Learning materials/Book allowances: R5 200 per year.
- Incidental/personal care allowance: R2 900 per year for students in catered residences.
Allowances for TVET College Students
TVET College students also benefit from allowances tailored to their requirements. The bursary provides accommodation allowances based on the location of the college.
Students in urban areas receive a higher accommodation allowance than those in rural areas. Students who do not live in residences will receive a transport allowance.
TVET College students receive a living allowance to assist with general living expenses. An incidental or personal care allowance is also provided to ensure students have additional support for their well-being.
2023 allowances For TVET College Students
- Accommodation in an urban area: R24 000 per year.
- Accommodation in a peri-urban area: R18 900 per year.
- Accommodation in a rural area: R15 750 per year.
- Transport (up to 40 km from the institution): R7 350 per year.
- Living allowance: R7 000 per year.
- Incidental/personal care allowance: R2 900 per year.
Allowances Distance University Students Studying At Home Receive
Unisa students who are funded through NSFAS only receive a Learning Materials Allowance and Living Allowance. Learning Material Allowance is calculated based on the number of modules registered. Unisa students will then receive R600 per module for the first four modules and an R5,460 once-off amount for five modules to ten modules.
NSFAS teamed up with four financial technology service providers to bring the new payment solution to students. Students are required to register with the partner allocated to their university or TVET college before they receive their NSFAS bank card.
Tenet Technologies will provide services to students at the Cape Peninsula University Of Technology, University Of KwaZulu Natal, University of Venda, University of Pretoria, University of Witwatersrand and Walter Sisulu University.
Students attending Rhodes University, Sefako Makgatho Health Science University, Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town, University of Mpumalanga and University of South Africa must register with Coinvest.
Norraco has been tasked with paying allowances directly to students enrolled at theCentral University Of Technology, Mangosuthu University Of Technology, Nelson Mandela University, North West University, University Of Fort Hare, University Of Johannesburg And University Of Western Cape.
Ezaga will distribute allowances to students registered at Durban University Of Technology, Tshwane University Of Technology University Of Free State University Of Limpopo University Of Zululand and the Vaal University Of Technology.
Benefits of the NSFAS Mastercard
NSFAS believes that the new direct payment solution that is the NSFAS bank account will give them greater control over when students receive their allowances while also teaching them financial responsibility.
According to the bursary scheme the NSFAS MasterCard will give students access to value-added services, the ability to make online purchases, tap-to-pay functionality and a virtual card to pay securely at retail merchants.
While the NSFAS mastercard has promised students several benefits, including financial responsibility, stakeholders have noted their concern as several challenges arose when the new direct payment system was first introduced for university students earlier this year.
Where To Withdraw Your NSFAS Allowances: You can withdraw your NSFAS allowances from the following locations:
- Nedbank ATMs
- Pick n Pay stores
- Shoprite stores
- Checkers stores
- Boxer stores
- Usave stores
Who Is Eligible For Funding From NSFAS? To be eligible for funding from NSFAS, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be a South African citizen.
- Come from a family with a combined household income below R350,000 per year.
- If you are disabled, your combined household income should be less than R600,000 per year.
- Have been accepted or provisionally accepted to study at a public university or TVET college for an approved undergraduate qualification.
- Should not have previously received funding for the same qualification level, unless you have a specific approved reason for further funding.
Students must register for a NSFAS bank account with one of the four service providers partners with NSFAS to access their allowances.
How To Contact NSFAS
Prospective students who need to contact NSFAS for any inquiries or assistance can use several different methods to contact the financial aid scheme.
You can reach out to them via email at i[email protected] or connect with them through social media on Facebook at "National Student Financial Aid Scheme," on Twitter at "@myNSFAS," and on Instagram at "@myNSFAS."
Alternatively, you can use WhatsApp by adding their number +27 78 519 8006 to your contacts. Another quick way to access their services is through USSD by dialling 12067327#.
These various contact channels ensure that you can easily reach out to NSFAS for any inquiries or assistance you may need regarding student financial aid. For quick access to their services, you can also use the USSD code 12067327# on your mobile device.