NSFAS to pay over R6bn upfront to varsities


National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) Chairperson, Ernest Khosa, says the scheme expects to make upfront payments of approximately R3.5 billion to universities and R2.7 billion to Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

Khosa said government, through the Department of Higher and Education and Training, has allocated R47.6 billion for student funding, and this includes R38.6 billion for universities and R8.9 billion for TVETs.

“The respective funding is received in four tranche payments in the months of April, June, August and October annually.  This means that all qualifying students, who have been enrolled at a higher education institution, will be funded.

“Furthermore, NSFAS is in a position to provide upfront payments to institutions, to allow for the payment of allowances and minimise the financial impact on institutions due to the fact that NSFAS beneficiaries are not required to pay registration… This will assist institutions, in particular HDIs (Historically Disadvantaged Institutions) and TVET colleges,” Khosa said.

NSFAS has received 1 587 968 applications from prospective beneficiaries, and of this, 613 909 applications have been provisionally funded, 338 320 are continuing students and 275 589 are new applicants.

Highlighting the status of the applications received, Khosa said 210 679 applications are on assessment of financial eligibility, a process where funding is verified against the government R350 000 threshold.

“About 149 202 are on awaiting academic eligibility. According to the NSFAS Eligibility Criteria and Conditions for Financial Aid, students must attain the prescribed academic success in order to continue to receive financial aid from NSFAS.

“A total of 273 746 applications are awaiting evaluation. NSFAS received more than 1.6 million applications, [which] is the highest number received in the history of NSFAS,” Khosa said.

He said 98 805 applications have been withdrawn. These include applications withdrawn by students; 161 139 applications have been rejected due to not meeting funding criteria, while 1 261 appeals have already been submitted.

While immediate funding decisions have been made for qualifying South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) students, Khosa emphasised that non-SASSA students must provide documentation to prove their household income.

“NSFAS must verify and confirm each of these applications based on the information provided, and confirm using the South African Revenue Service (SARS) data,” said Khosa.

Improved systems to make real time funding decisions

Meanwhile, Khosa announced that NSFAS has improved its systems to enable it to make real time funding decisions.

He said at this stage, NSFAS is able to make real-time funding decisions for SASSA beneficiaries, while it continues to engage with SARS to enable the same for all other applicants.

“We are reviewing the design and implementation of a stable Information Communication Technology (ICT) system, leveraging modern technologies and capabilities in order to deliver the NSFAS mandate seamlessly. We are reviewing all processes [and] operating and disbursement models.

“We are also reviewing our overall governance and management design to ensure the full execution of our mandate. We have also introduced a new performance management and accountability framework in a bid to establish a high-performance culture within the organisation,” Khosa said. –