What's The Difference Between ISFAP and NSFAS?

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If you're wondering what the difference between NSFAS and ISFAP is then we can help you. Although the two funds might be similar, they also have many differences.


The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) are both financial aid schemes available to assist financially needy students fund their tertiary education studies.

Sifanele Biyela, Regional Project Manager at Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme, explained the difference between ISFAP and NSFAS. 

NSFAS is a government financial aid scheme and that's where the big difference lies. ISFAP is a foundation that's donor-funded and is not under the government.

NSFAS provides funding for students with a household income of less than R350 000 per annum, while ISFAP provides funding for students with a household income between R0 and R600 000.

While NSFAS accommodates poorer students, ISFAP accommodates students who fall under both the label of poor and working class as well as the missing middle.

ISFAP also only covers certain programmes at certain universities while NSFAS would cover a far wider range of courses at all the public institutions in South Africa.

NSFAS funding covers: 


  • Tuition fees
  • Accommodation: amount is the actual cost charged by the university. 
  • Transport: R7 500 per annum (up to 40 km from the institution)
  • Living allowance: R15 000 per annum
  • Book allowance: R5200 per annum 


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

ISFAP funding covers:

  • Tuition fees
  • Accommodation 
  • Food
  • Learning material (textbooks, calculators, etc.)
  • Living allowance/Pocket money 
  • Non-academic student support

It's important to remember that you can't be funded by both ISFAP and NSFAS at the same time.

With NSFAS and ISFAP, the aim is to try and reach as many students as possible and afford the opportunity to as many students as possible.

Should students have more than one funder, it then narrows the reach of the different programmes to students who might find it useful, explains Biyela.

ISFAP therefore does not fund students who already have funding and your offer will be withdrawn if they find that you do.

Where to find ISFAP

More Articles About ISFAP

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ISFAP students

ISFAP is a bursary scheme which targets the missing middle in universities. Keep reading to find out which courses and universities this bursary funds. 

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