NSFAS Supports Millions of South African Students Since 1996

South Africa's NSFAS has supported over 5 million students since 1996, funding 67% of university students and 60% of tertiary education students in 2021. NSFAS is urging ex-students to repay loans, launching new loans for "missing middle" students and ensuring funding integrity with the SIU.

Trim Correspondents
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NSFAS Supports Millions of South African Students Since 1996

NSFAS Supports Millions of South African Students Since 1996

South Africa'sNational Student Financial Aid Scheme(NSFAS) has been a lifeline for millions of students since its inception in 1996. The government-funded bursary and loan scheme has supported over 5 million students, playing a crucial role in making tertiary education accessible to those who may not have had the means otherwise.

Why this matters: The accessibility of tertiary education has a direct impact on a country's economic growth and social development, as it enables a more educated and skilled workforce. By supporting millions of students, NSFAS is contributing to the empowerment of South Africa's future generations and the country's long-term prosperity.

In 2021 alone, NSFAS funded a staggering 67% of university students and 60% of tertiary education students in South Africa. The comprehensive bursaries and student loans provided by NSFAS cover tuition and registration fees, as well as allowances for food, accommodation, and learning materials for deserving learners enrolled in approved courses at universities and TVET colleges.

Prior to 2018, NSFAS operated as a loan scheme, requiring students to repay the funding they received. However, in 2018, NSFAS was converted to a bursary, alleviating the financial burden on students. Despite this change, ex, students who received funding before 2018 are still obligated to repay their loans. NSFAS is urging these students to fulfill their repayment obligations, emphasizing that every contribution counts. "Begin repaying your NSFAS loans and pave the way for future students. Your contribution matters - let's make quality education accessible to all," NSFAS stated. "Remember, every payment counts, no matter how small it is."

The recovery of funds from NSFAS loans is vital for the financial sustainability and future of the government bursary scheme. In a recent development, NSFAS launched missing middle student loans in 2024 as part of the Comprehensive Funding Model. These loans are available to students with a household income between R350,000 and R600,000, expanding the reach of financial aid to a broader range of students.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has also taken steps to ensure the integrity of the NSFAS funding process. The SIU signed an acknowledgement of debt agreement worth nearly R11 million with parents and students who did not meet the NSFAS funding criteria, demonstrating the government's commitment to accountability and proper allocation of funds.

Since 1996, NSFAS has been instrumental in transforming the lives of millions of South African students, providing them with the financial support needed to pursue their educational dreams. With over 5 million students supported and a significant portion of university and tertiary education students funded in 2021, NSFAS continues to be a driving force in promoting equal access to education in South Africa.