Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister, Blade Nzimande, says all National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) qualifying students do not have to pay upfront registration fees at universities or colleges.
“The fact that for the first time NSFAS is able to say you qualify, it means therefore, when you go to register when you’ve been accepted, you’ve got proof to say, ‘I don’t have to pay registration’.
“It is also a great improvement in the system because before, you would have a number of NSFAS qualifying students being asked to pay registration fees, that we have eliminated now [and] who ever does this is breaking the law,” Nzimande said.
Briefing the media on Post-school Education and Training sector state of readiness for the academic year 2020 on Thursday, Nzimande said that 430 000 applications have been approved for NSFAS funding.
Nzimande said that NSFAS has received a record-breaking number of applications by the closing date of 30 November 2019, with more than 543 268 first-time applications (prior year 428 929), received from applicants across the country, with majority of the applicants submitting applications online via the myNSFAS portal.
“Applicants include those who were in Matric in 2019, learners in Grade 10 – 11 and those intending to further studies at the TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges, out of school youth, returning/continuing students without NSFAS funding in prior years,” Nzimande said.
A total of 281 639 of all applications received so far are South African Social Security Agency’s (SASSA) beneficiaries.
The Minister attributed the success rate in applications to an extensive outreach campaign, including partnerships with both local and provincial governments; and the private sector.
“Premiers from various provinces, together with their provincial departments of education have supported NSFAS in reaching out to most rural areas in various provinces. The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) also made their facilities available for NSFAS applicants to submit both online and manual applications, as well as submission of the supporting documents,” the Minister said.
Over 30 000 applications under assessment
Nzimande said a total of 30 632 are currently under assessment.
From the total number of applications received, Nzimande said 62 275 applications were incomplete or may have outstanding or incorrect supporting documents.
“Applicants with incomplete applications have been contacted by NSFAS over the festive season and as receiving the required documents from them, their applications will be processed for funding decisions,” he said.
Meanwhile, NSFAS has launched a project in partnership with Department of Basic Education that aims to provide supplementary NSFAS content for Grade 9 – Grade 12 learners while they are still at school.
“Our outreach program continually shows a relatively high number of learners know very little about NSFAS. Hence our focus in strengthening and expanding the outreach programme. Just under 50% of applications have been received from social grant beneficiaries,” Nzimande said.
He noted that the personal details and social welfare status of all applications have been validated with the Departments of Home Affairs and Social Development.
“This is a major improvement in NSFAS administration, as communication of funding decisions prior to the commencement of the academic year will allow students to enrol at relevant post-school institutions without having to pay upfront registration fees.”
To support the ongoing registration at TVET Colleges, where it is expected ther ewould be an influx of Walk-Ins, NSFAS has deployed a team of support staff, from 13 January 2020, who will work with the colleges to assist them with NSFAS related issues, especially for late admission.