Many students wanting to study at South Africa’s largest university, University of South Africa (Unisa) have enquired whether or not they can apply for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursaries.
Unisa offers Undergraduate qualifications. Individuals can apply for admission to several Higher Certificate, Advanced Certificate, Diplomas, Advanced Diploma and Degree programmes.
Studying At Unisa
Unisa uses an Open Distance e-Learning (ODeL) education model. This means that students do not attend classes in person and learn from a distance via online platforms.
Additionally, Unisa students participate in examinations online. The university uses proctoring tools to ensure the integrity of examinations is upheld. Proctoring tools are online invigilating tools which require a connection to a smartphone, laptop or desktop with a functional camera.
Many of the individuals applying to study at Unisa will require funding to pay for their Unisa courses. These students can apply for the NSFAS bursary.
What Is NSFAS?
NSFAS provides comprehensive bursaries to students enrolled in approved courses at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.
Bursaries provided to students include tuition fees, registration fees and allowances. These allowances include an accommodation allowance, a learning material allowance and a meal allowance.
Does NSFAS Cover Unisa Courses?
NSFAS funding aims to cover students who come from poor and working class backgrounds who are attending or planning to study at one of the 26 public universities or 50 TVET Colleges.
Unisa is one of the 26 public universities in the country which means that yes, NSFAS does cover Unisa courses.
How To Apply For NSFAS Funding
Funding applications can be submitted on the NSFAS portal, myNSFAS. NSFAS has also developed additional channels which students can use to apply for funding, including a mobile application, USSD and WhatsApp.
Students will be able to view the progress of their funding applications and cancel their applications on these channels; these features were previously only available on the NSFAS website.
To qualify for the NSFAS bursary, applicants must be South African citizens, enrolled in an approved course of study at a public tertiary education institution and did not exceed the household income threshold.
The household income threshold for able-bodied students is R350 000 while students living with a disability may have a household income not exceeding R600 000.
Which Unisa Courses Are Funded By NSFAS?
NSFAS will pay for most of Unisa’s undergraduate courses. It's important to note that NSFAS will only pay for your first qualification. This means that if you are enrolling in a second qualification, NSFAS will not approve your NSFAS bursary application.
NSFAS will not pay for Unisa Part-time studies or Unisa Short courses. The bursary scheme will also not fund Unisa postgraduate courses.
What NSFAS Allowances Are Available for Unisa Students?
Unisa students funded through NSFAS are eligible for the Learning Materials Allowance and the Living Allowance.
The Learning Materials Allowance is determined by the number of modules a student is registered for. Unisa students receive R700 per module for the first four modules and a one-time payment of R5,460 for five or more modules.
Consequently, if R5,200 is already paid as the Learning Materials Allowance for the first five modules, no additional allowance will be granted for any extra modules. This allowance must be used to purchase textbooks and other study materials required to successfully complete their courses.
Living Allowances are disbursed to students who have registered for ten or more modules. Furthermore, Unisa specifies that students registered for ten or more modules qualify for an incidental allowance.
In addition to these allowances, NSFAS covers both your tuition fees and registration fee.
Understanding Unisa Registration for NSFAS Students
First-time NSFAS applicants studying at Unisa are encouraged to ensure they are temporarily registered during Unisa's registration period while waiting for NSFAS funding confirmation.
If their NSFAS application is declined or delayed by the close of the registration period, you will be expected to find alternative funding before your registration will be activated.
Returning NSFAS students who received funding in the previous year but have not yet completed their qualification should also temporarily register during Unisa's registration period while awaiting NSFAS funding confirmation.
NSFAS students who were funded in the previous year but have been denied funding for the following year and have subsequently appealed the decision should consider paying the minimum registration fee while awaiting the NSFAS appeal decision.