The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will be granting bursaries instead of loans to undergraduate students this year, in line with the government’s new fee policy.
President Jacob Zuma announced on December 16 that the 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 a bursary scheme by the Department of Higher Education and Training for indigent people to access tertiary education.
According to the department‚ returning students who were funded by the NSFAS in 2017 or earlier would 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”.
It said those who applied to the NSFAS for funding by November 30 and whose families’ gross household income threshold was 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.
The NSFAS has already received in excess of 300 000 applications from student hopefuls who have signalled their intention to study at universities and technical vocational education and training colleges this year.
“We have already assessed 80% of the applications using the new criteria‚” NSFAS CEO Steven Zwane said.