What Are The NSFAS Requirements For Returning Students?

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Are you a returning student seeking funding for your tertiary studies? NSFAS may be the bursary for you, here are the requirements for returning students. 


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The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is a government bursary which provides financial aid to disadvantaged students who plan on studying at South African public universities or TVET colleges. 

NSFAS funding is also provided to students who previously studied without funding from the bursary scheme. 

They have funding criteria which each applicant has to meet in order to qualify for the NSFAS bursary. After the #FeesMustFall, the NSFAS funding criteria changed.

Currently the requirements for NSFAS funding are as follows: 

  • Must be a South African Citizen
  • Sassa Grant Recipients qualify immediately
  • Combined household income of R350 000 or less per annum
  • If you are living with a disability, you need to have a combined household income of R600 000 or less per annum

If you are a returning student from 2018 and you meet pre-2018 academic and financial requirements, you will still be considered. Students who started studying before 2018 are required to have a household income that does not exceed R122 000 per year.

NSFAS covers registration, tuition and provides students with various allowances. These allowances cover transport, living expenses and learning materials.

The allowances for Universities and TVET Colleges differ. 

University Allowances 

  • 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 institution): R7 500  per annum
  • Living allowance: R15, 000  per annum
  • Book allowance: R5200 per annum
  • Incidental/personal care allowance: R2900 per annum for students in catered residences

TVET College allowances 

  • Accommodation in an urban area: R24,000 per annum
  • Accommodation in an peri-urban area: R18,900 per annum
  • Accommodation in an rural area: R15,750 per annum
  • Transport (up to 40 km from institution): R7,350  per annum
  • Transport: R7000 per annum
  • Incidental/personal care allowance: R2900 per annum

Students who are in their second year of studying or who have studied without NSFAS funding can also apply as long as they have not received any other types of funding, however those who have previously completed a qualification cannot apply. 


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