NSFAS to give bursaries‚ not loans‚ this year

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will be granting bursaries instead of loans to undergraduate students this year in line with government’s new fee policy.

President Jacob Zuma announced on December 16 that government would be phasing in “fully subsidised free higher education and training for poor and working class South Africans”‚ over a five-year period.

The announcement has resulted in the establishment of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Bursary Scheme for indigent students to access tertiary education.

According to the department‚ returning students who were funded by NSFAS in 2017 or earlier will also be awarded bursaries.

“This NSFAS allocation will not have to be repaid‚” it said.

However‚ the department stipulated that “past loans will not be converted to a bursary at this time”.

Those who applied to NSFAS for funding by November 30 and whose family’s gross household income threshold is R122‚000 per annum would be eligible.

“All eligible students will be provided with a bursary that covers the actual cost of their tuition‚ plus an allowance for prescribed learning materials‚” the department said in a statement.

NSFAS has already received in excess of 300‚000 applications for first-year students who have signalled their intentions to study at universities and TVET colleges in the 2018 academic year.

“We have already assessed 80% of the applications using the new criteria‚” said NSFAS CEO Steven Zwane.