The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which is a government loan and bursary fund for college and university students through NSFAS allowances and funding. We publish all the latest news on NSFAS so you can keep up-to-date with all the requirements.
NSFAS funds the wider Higher Education Sector, supporting both university students at public universities, and students at Technical and Vocational Education (TVET) Colleges across the country.
After the protests of recent years calling for free higher education funding began to raise concerns, NSFAS changed from being a financial aid scheme that assists students with loans - to one that gives out bursaries for those who want to pursue tertiary/higher education at institutions of higher learning (universities or TVET colleges in South Africa).
The scheme's operations closely involve the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), and the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr. Blade Nzimande, as well as the South African Revenue Services (SARS) and the Department of Home Affairs, to confirm eligibility of potential NSFAS beneficiaries, and to make sure funds are not paid to ghost students.
NSFAS has to make sure each applicant and their information provided has been fully authenticated before they can approve students for funding. NSFAS funds millions of students across South Africa each year.
National Student Financial Aid Scheme News
You will find the latest news from NSFAS here on Careers Portal. NSFAS funds help to assist students from poor and working class backgrounds in South Africa, which goes beyond just paying for your higher education tuition fees. NSFAS distributes allowances, fees for tuition, registration, accommodation, transport, books and other study materials.
NSFAS Direct Payment System
This year (2023), the NSFAS Board has decided to introduce a new direct payment project, which they say is in line with their student centered model and aims to award students with more control over their funds.
The new direct payment system has not been popular amongst student beneficiaries. The NSFAS board has defended the new payment system from the criticism and dissatisfaction that has come from student organisations and civil society bodies.
The bank accounts (which funded students had to make sure they were registered for) allow for NSFAS allowances to be paid directly to students. But, some of the issues students have complained about is that they are not receiving their allowances and that the bank accounts charge high bank charges. Students are blaming the new system for these challenges.
What are the NSFAS eligibility requirements?
The most important requirement to determine eligibility, is that your household income should come to R350 000 or less per year. This means that if you add up everyone’s salaries in your house for the year and it comes to over R350 000, you won’t qualify to receive NSFAS funds, and your application will be rejected.
Usually, students and future students will submit their NSFAS online application to receive a NSFAS bursary using myNSFAS.
Bursaries provided by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) covers a range of courses and programmes offered by TVET colleges and public universities across the country.
What Institutions, Colleges or Universities Does NSFAS Supply Bursaries For?
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme is available to South African citizens if they meet the eligibility criteria. But which colleges and varsities do they fund? The answer is that is could be for any of the 26 public universities in South Africa. That includes varsities like Wits University, University of the Western Cape, University of Cape Town,
You will also be funded at any of the Universities of Technology. These include, Tshwane University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Central University of Technology, and a number of others.
NSFAS funding is also available for students at the 52 TVET Colleges across the country. Nearly all of the TVET courses will be funded so just confirm with your local TVET College that your particular course is covered.
NSFAS funding is not available for any private colleges or higher education institutions. Their diplomas and degrees are al the same level as those offered by the public institutions - but you can't be funded by NSFAS if you attend there.
What Is The NSFAS N+ Rule?
According to the bursary scheme, a student will be funded for the entire duration of their first qualification, providing they continue meeting the required criteria.
For example, if it takes 4 years to complete your qualification, Nsfas will fund you throughout the 4 years (funding per year), and they will also fund you for additional 2 years if you need to re-do certain modules/ subjects.
This is where the N+2 rule comes into play.
The N+2 rule means that students only have N+2 years to finish a degree. “N” refers to the 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 that the maximum time).
Does NSFAS Fund Postgraduate Courses For Students?
If is important to note that NSFAS does not cover any postgraduate degrees or second qualifications, should students wish to further their studies beyond a first degree.
This includes postgraduate certificates, postgraduate diplomas, Honours degrees, Masters and PhD degrees.
Here’s who can qualify for NSFAS funding:
- All South African citizens
- All SASSA grant recipients qualify for funding
- Applicants whose combined household family income is not more than R350 000 per annum
- Person with disability: Combined household family income must not be more than R600 000 per annum
- Students who started studying at tertiary institutions of higher education before 2018, whose household income is not more than R122 000 per annum.
NSFAS allowances will cover the following fees: registration fees, tuition fees, study material expenses, food costs, incidental/ personal care, as well as accommodation or transport.
The scheme has advised students seeking funding for postgraduate qualifications to contact and apply through the National Research Foundation (NRF).
It has now been announced that NSFAS will introduce a loan scheme for missing middle students who previously did not qualify for NSFAS financial aid.
Funding Not Related To NSFAS
NSFAS bursaries are not the only funding options available for young people. The Funza Lushaka bursary is available for students who want to study to be teachers. The Services Sector Education and Training authority, called the Services Seta, has also provided a lot of bursary funding in the past. These bursaries are not connected to NSFAS.