Protests affecting NSFAS applications

The #FeesMustFall protests are affecting the allocation of assistance to students on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

“Due to recent student protests at all our campuses‚ we have noticed that there are students who have applied for NSFAS‚ but have not signed their loan agreement forms (LAF) and schedules of particulars (SOP) as yet‚” NSFAS chief executive Msulwa Daca said yesterday

“We call on them to sign their LAFs and SOPs at their respective universities as soon as possible.”

Daca said the NSFAS would not be able to process tuition payments for students who had not signed their agreements.

“We are also under pressure from our funders. [They] want to fund students who are doing well academically and complete their studies in record time.”

Daca‚ who was addressing the media in Pretoria on the progress the NSFAS has made on applications for next year‚ said another concern was the “minimal” number of applications received from 2016 matric pupils.

“Most of the applications we received are from university students‚” Daca said. “This is a concern because the reason for the early opening of applications is to be able to assess [them] early and communicate with the applicants before January 2017.”

Daca said the NSFAS had this year supported 480 000 economically disadvantaged students to access universities and colleges.

“This year alone‚ NSFAS has disbursed loans and bursaries to the tune of R14-billion.”

The scheme‚ according to Daca‚ would now convert the loans given to third-year students into bursaries‚ on condition that they meet academic requirements. Daca would not give a figure on how much money the scheme had recouped from previous NSFAS students. “There are students who have come forward to pay their loans‚” he said.

He earlier said students would no longer need to reapply every year for financial assistance and that the NSFAS had introduced a centralised system for its processes.

The benefits of the new system included “the ability to pick up fraud before it happens”.

Daca said the NSFAS had received more than 195 000 online applications through the new centralised system.