When it comes to studying beyond high school, not everyone will be capable of studying. The main reason for this is due to a lack of funding. Fortunately, there are various financial options available for young students looking to further their studies.
One of the biggest (if not the biggest) financial institutions for students looking to study further is through NSFAS.
NSFAS (the National Student Financial Aid Scheme) aims to provide student funding to those who are studying undergraduate programmes at the university/college of their choice.
With that said, the NSFAS application window for the 2024 academic year will open from 21 November 2023 to 31 January 2024, giving current and prospective students just over two (2) months to apply for student funding.
Who Can Qualify for NSFAS Funding?
Not everyone can qualify for student funding from NSFAS and even if students do meet the admission criteria, it’s not a 100% guarantee that funding will be available.
To receive funding from NSFAS for their studies, applicants will have to:
- Had passed Grade 9 to 12 to study at a TVET College; and/or
- Passed Grade 12 to enable studying at a university or TVET College
Additionally, students who were previously funded can apply for funding again. Students who were registered prior to 2018 will need to have a combined household income of R122 000 to qualify, while post-2018 applicants will need to have a combined household income of R350 000 in order to qualify.
And good news for applicants whose applications were rejected beforehand (due to a lack of funding), funding for their studies will be approved as long as they fall within the R350 000 threshold and have been admitted to their university/TVET college programme of choice.
So in conclusion, the following applicants do qualify for the NSFAS Bursary:
- Applicants will have to be a South African citizen planning to study in 2024
- Students who are already studying and enrolled in an undergraduate programme at a public university or TVET college
- Applicants having a combined household income of no less than R350 000 per annum, or
- Disabled applicants having a combined household income of no less than R600 000 per annum
- Having access to a cell phone number and email address
Some may laugh at the last point but it’s vital for NSFAS to be in contact with prospective bursars for them to receive funding.
However, not everyone will qualify for funding from NSFAS. Students who will not qualify include:
- Those who have completed a previous qualification
- Those who have a combined household income of more than R350 000
- Those who have already applied for, qualified and received funding.
For students who are planning to apply at a TVET college and hoping to gain NSFAS funding, they will be eligible for if meeting the following requirements:
- Must be a South African citizen
- Must intend to register on a PLP, NC(V) or Report 191 programme at any TVET college in SA
- Must be in need of financial assistance to complete their studies
- For returning students, they must maintain a good academic record in order to continue receiving funding
- Must not be enrolling in a qualification that mirrors their previous state-funded learning; and
- Must have a gross household income of no more than R350 000 per annum
What Documents are Required to Apply for NSFAS Funding?
Applicants, old and new, will have to provide the following documentation to be considered for funding from NSFAS:
- A copy of your ID / Birth Certificate. Temporary IDs will also be accepted
- Non-SASSA applicants will have to provide a copy of your parent’s / or guardian’s / spouse’s ID
- Smart ID Card (if you do not have the green book) where both sides of the card is required
- Your proof of income (if applicable) as well as from your parents / legal guardian / spouse, no older than 3 months old. If applicable, UIF letter(s), appointment letter and retrenchment letter
Please note that not all points apply to all applicants, so make sure that you only provide the information that is relevant to you. When adding your information on your application, the NSFAS system will let you know which documents are needed from you.
Affidavits are not accepted as a document for a means to obtain funding.
Also Read: UNISA Applications 2024
How Can I Apply for NSFAS Funding?
To apply for NSFAS funding for the 2024 academic year, applicants will have to apply on the myNSFAS online platform which you can do from the comfort of your own home.
Potential applicants who do not have access to electronic devices to apply can also apply at their nearest National Youth Development Agency or Thusong Registration Centers. This way, everyone can get themselves a deserving chance of being funded by the institution.
With that said, follow these simple steps to apply for NSFAS Funding online:
- Visit the NSFAS website and tap on the myNSFAS tab
- Follow the appropriate steps to create a myNSFAS account for yourself
- Once completed, tap on the Apply section and fill in your information where applicable
- Upload the documents you need to complete your application
- Tap on the Submit button and you are done! And then the waiting process begins…
Keep in mind that in order to gain funding, applicants will need to either be studying a qualifying programme or their application to study further at the institution of their choice is accepted.
This is one of the reasons why the application window for NSFAS is open late into the new year this time round.
Additionally, TVET students have multiple opportunities during the year to apply for NSFAS funding as TVET colleges tend to be more flexible when they open for applications.
Applicants who are planning to study at a TVET college can apply online as well as through their college’s bursary offices, making it easier and accessible for applicants to apply for student funding.
What Will Be Funded by NSFAS?
Applicants will be allocated funds (allowances) to be used for specific instances, as to help students not be reckless with the funds they receive.
Successful university students will be covered by NSFAS for the following:
- Registration and Tuition Fees
- Transport (up to 40km from the location of the institution)
- Living allowance
- Study Materials allowance
- Personal Care / Incidental allowance
The allowances for TVET colleges includes the following:
- Registration and tuition fees
- Personal Care allowance
- Transport allowance
- Living allowance
More information on how the funding will be split up for the type of learning institution will become available at a later date.
Not all applicants will receive positive news about their bursary applications. That is why once applicants receive the outcome of their application, they do have the chance to appeal the institution’s decision.
Appeals will only be in consideration for applicants who have either applied to NSFAS beforehand or if they are a continuing student and their financial aid was withdrawn.
When this happens, applicants / students have up to 30 days from receiving their application results to submit their appeal on the myNSFAS online platform.
Please note that not all appeals will overturn, especially if:
- Students are registered for a qualification that is not funded by NSFAS
- They have reached N+2 (N+3 in terms of disabled students)
- Gap year students who NSFAS previously denied financial aid
- The institution that the student is studying at failed to submit their registration record (or submitted an incorrect registration record) to NSFAS.
There are instances where an application which was rejected before can overturn because of specific circumstances such as:
Exceeding the Income Threshold
Sometimes the income in a household can change due to certain circumstances and as such, financial aid for your studies may be made available such as:
- A person in the household has become incapacitated / deceased since the application was submitted
- The applicant has become independent from their previous household, which lead to a drop in overall income
- The applicant being from a child-headed household substantiated from a social worker designated by the Department of Social Development
- Due to decree of divorce and only one parent is responsible for the financial well-being of the child (including education)
Failing to Meet Academic Eligibility
Appeals from students who failed to succeed academically in their studies may be considered for a positive appeal if they:
- Were a continuing students who was not a FTEN / FTN student in their previous academic term of study
- Were unable to complete their academic studies due to severe ill health lasting longer than 2 months consistently at a time
- Were unable to due to death in the immediate family during the term
- Were subject to violent crime
- Gave birth during the academic term (and after evaluation and providing the NSFAS standard propensity letter to confirm that the student will complete their qualification within an additional required period)
- Were someone living with a disability and were unable to complete their academic term due to their disability
A full list of reasoning for appeals and rejections can be found online here.
Also Read: The Best Tips to Succeed at UNISA in 2024
What is the NSFAS Wallet?
When financial aid recipients receive their funding, the money has to go somewhere, right? For NSFAS-funded students, they will receive their allowances via their NSFAS Wallet.
The NSFAS Wallet will enable students to withdraw cash or spend their allowance at any NSFAS-registered merchant (so as to not spend wildly on items not related to your studies).
To receive NSFAS allowance via the NSFAS Wallet, students must have:
- Their own cell phone and a valid SIM card
- Signed their NSFAS Bursary agreement (for new NSFAS students)
Important: The NSFAS Wallet is ONLY available for students studying at a TVET college, with a list of colleges you can find online here.
There is plenty of time to apply for financial aid from NSFAS. Keep in mind that the sooner you apply, the earlier you can find out whether you will receive funding or not and the earlier you can appeal (or not if necessary).
Written by Dylan Florence
First Published on 20 November 2023