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NSFAS protest at Wits

Everything you need to know about NSFAS

For all its hitches, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is the answer to many matriculants’ prayers, providing a way for those who would otherwise not be able to afford an education to get their degrees. AAISHA DADI PATEL breaks down everything you need to know about applying for NSFAS.

READ ALSO: All you need to know about NSFAS for 2017

What exactly is NSFAS?
NSFAS is a government scheme set up to help young people pay for tuition at any of the 25 public universities and 50 public FET colleges in the country. NSFAS provides loans and scholarships that will cover your tuition, accommodation, living expenses and travel while you study.

Who qualifies for NSFAS?
All South African citizens, registered at South African institutions, who are in need of financial assistance and can prove that they’ll be academically successful, are eligible for NSFAS funding. While NSFAS funds primarily undergraduate students, further study can also be covered if it is required for your chosen career. (This would be that case, for example, with law, which requires you to have a postgraduate, LLB degree.)

How do I apply?
It’s quite simple, really. Full time registered students who meet the entry requirements for the scheme just have to complete and submit NSFAS applications forms at their university’s financial aid offices. The only catch is that funding isn’t automatically renewed, so students need to make sure to reapply every year.

How do they decide who makes the cut?
To determine who qualifies for NSFAS, applicants have to undergo a “means test” to rank how financially needy they are. This is a formula which takes into account the household income, the number of dependents in the household, and the family’s cost of living. Usually, students with an annual household income of R160 000 or less will be eligible to apply. A family contribution to the fees may, however, need to be made, depending on the means test.

Do I need to pay it all back?
The short answer is yes, you really should. Loan repayments are encouraged in order to help fund new generations of students in need of NSFAS. But it depends on your marks. Depending on the quality of your results, up to 40% of NSFAS loans can be converted to bursaries.

Loan repayments are based on the salary that you earn; you start paying them back once your salary is R30,000 or more per year. The repayment rate is reasonable: 3% of the annual salary, increasing to a maximum of 8% when your salary reaches R59,300 or more per year. This means you will pay back R900 a year on a salary of R30 000 a year, or R84 per month. Not a bad deal, especially when you consider that the interest charged on the loan is subsidised at 80% of the rate that the commercial rate banks would charge.

Even though the NSFAS Act of 1999 allows NSFAS to have employers deduct loan repayments from the monthly salaries of those who’ve been assisted by the scheme, about 20% of NSFAS recipients have never paid back a cent. In 2013, NSFAS was owed R15.6-billion in unpaid loans. This means the next generation of needy students have to fight that much harder for a piece of the pie. So if you get NSFAS funding and you get your degree, be a good sport and pay back the money.

Is it plain-sailing after I get my NSFAS funding?
Not always. There are countless stories about students whose fees or additional costs, like res fees, weren’t fully paid, whose living expenses were paid late or who struggled to get NSFAS to pay their registration on time. Administration, particularly when split between a state organisation like NSFAS and a university or college, can be tricky. So be aware that having confirmed NSFAS funding doesn’t mean that all your expenses will be covered. You also might need to spend lots of time on the phone, writing emails or queueing at the financial aid office for clarification and advice. The bottom line is, you might simply have to pay some expenses out of your own pocket.

For more information, visit the NSFAS website or your institution’s financial aid office.

Is applying for a NSFAS loan as easy as it looks on paper? If you are a NSFAS-funded student, or a rejected NSFAS applicant, please share your story with us via email. Don’t forget to include your phone number, so we can follow up with you.

– Featured image: By Aaisha Dadi Patel.

About Aaisha Dadi Patel

Aaisha Dadi Patel
Aaisha is completing her masters degree in media studies at Wits University. Her research interests include gender and representations of Muslim women in the media.


  1. I have a problem iam studyin at university of zululand and was rejected by nsfas due to my marks but i realy want to finish my degree since i was supposed to complete last year

  2. when does nsfas start paying for 1st year student fees

  3. I have been funded by NSFAS for the past 2 years and I only got a message that funds have depleted 4 days before the closing of registration .I am stranded and I really have no idea how to get an altervative source of fund at this time of rhe year.I was not rejected and I know there are other students out there lookng for financial assistance as much as I do,bt how do I complete my degree when they abandon me in my third year?

    • Sir/Madam!

      Kindly accept my application for a bursary offered by NEFSAS, as I ‘m a child of former freedom fighter, but my father is unable to assist me to further my studies. I am doing second year in Bcom Business Management at Pearson Higher Learning Institution( used to kinown as “Cti Education Group based at Menlyn”).

      Your assistance in this application will be highly appreciated.

  4. Dear sir/madam am a student at mpilo royal college doing community health care level 2,may you please help me with the NSFAS i really need it,to make my dreams to be true.my number is 0782920135.

  5. throughly speaking it is easy to apply for NSFAS but you only need documents that will support you they must all be certified…

  6. Dear Sir/Madam

    I have recently applied for NSFAS but was rejected due to the salary slip. I only have one parent who is financially supporting a family of 5 people. I am disappointed to think that NSFAS rejected my application. A great deal of stress has been on my shoulders of whether or not I will be able to finish my LLB Law Degree. I am desperate for financial aid.

  7. im studying inekurhuleni East college i have applied for a bursaries but i haven’t received any thing even today. im doing my N6, l have tried to call but they said nothing. im owning R6. 000 and i didn’t even get any sms.what should i do?

  8. im a wsu student @ ibika campus im doing 2nd year now each year i apply but this year i only received an sms which says insufficient funds so i want to know that cant you help me because i need this loan

  9. Simpiwe Golotile

    I have apply for university but I can’t get source of fund for 2017, how can I do to get NSFAS

  10. I’m currently studying at LETABA TVET COLLEGE at Giyani campus and i am doing electrical engineering and i can’t be able to pay my fees so i need to apply for NSFAS Loan but i have no clue please help me to build my future and community’s future.

  11. I don’t know how to calculate for the results for nsfas plz help

  12. Hey im a student at Unisa and i applied for nsfas for 2nd semester 2016 but I never got any response I waited and waited and had to borrow money on last minutes to pay since Iv been waiting for a response.I am going to try again for 2017 and hope I’ll make it because I really need financial assistance.

  13. Iam an applicant . Pursuing LLB degree at two university what happens if iam accepted at the one which is opposite to which i applied the scheme to. Help

  14. I was once accepted by nsfas, did my first year in tourism studies, I did very well with my level2, my marks were great, but struggled bcoz I had no1 to luk aftr my bby, so I cud not go back the following year, can they accept m again for next year if I tried applying???,, I really nid to finish my studies

  15. Hi my name is Rose I’m currently studying at Oxbridge college I’m doing educare and business management N4_N6 I want to apply for NSFAS I’m a single mother of 3 and I’m unemployed pls help me I want to further my studies

  16. Thulani Joseph Mashazi

    Am Thulani i want to study electrical engineering so i do not have funds to do my course, please help how can i apply for NSFAS.if u can able to help please contact me on this number 0626729517.
    Thank you.
    Your help will be highly appretiated with God’s hands.

  17. I just got the loan($50k) from +2348103091415 within two days.

  18. This NSFAS thou.it’s like u only get approved by luck coz even thou your marks are good and you still deserve to be funded, you always experience problems.

  19. Dear sir/madam am student at unisa I need nsfas to make my dream true,….doing higher certificate in law and willing to do llb next year so I could not afford tuition fee my is 0735254837

  20. Am student at unisa I need nsfas my number is 0735254837

  21. What happens if a student deregistered a module which was already payed by NSFAS ?

  22. Hi I applied NSFAS by a post to help me pay my fees next year 2017 so i wanted to know if my application can be successful because I heard that NSFAS system has changed first year applicant need to apply online .I applied early and attached all the documents need by NSFAS so I want knw dat my application is in the process or what cuz I applied with a hard copy not online PLZ CONTACT ME at 0798373678

  23. Hey I Want to know how much money does the bursary offer, Cous others said its R3000 while other Sy its R2000, if its true about R3000 so where does the other money go? MY number is 0798540795

  24. Lorraine nomthandazo Ndawonde

    Hello iam nomthandazo Lorraine Ndawonde I have applied for bursary for 2017 .iam currently studying at Unisa iam struggling with the fees iam now blocked because iam failing to pay.my worry now is that in my previous results i have supplementary modules am i not going to get since then ?

  25. Hello my name is Sammie ..want to know whether my application will be processed ..bcoz I live with my mum they were not married nd no proof of supporting documents on my father,s side nd I don’t even know him ..want to know whether they Will consider the application my contact 0743416020..your assistance will be highly appreciated.

    • Go to the social worker or a pastor or principal. They can give you a letter and you will satisfy it then you attache it on the application form they will process it.

  26. Hi my name is nonhle, plz help i applied online for nsfas bursary and my application was successful registered on later that i realise that i forgot to put one of my scaned supporting document , what do i do please help my number is 0736746983

  27. halo I have applied with a hard copy and its the first time. I wanna know if my application will be processed or not. Also I didn’t wrote my id number in my supporting documents. help me

  28. hi my question is i have applied for nsfas on the closing date at about 8h00 in the morning but ever since i never got a notification wether they received my application or not,whilst othjers receive smss every day .what does it mean my no is 0607558137

  29. Am kwanele i hv applied fot nsfas but my problem is the university did not accept me will i get nsfas or not coz i wanna do late application at nwu.

  30. Hello Every One, I am mrs Julian Sam From Ohio U.S.A, I quickly want to use this medium to shear a testimony on how God directed me to a Legit and real loan lender who have transformed my life from grass to grace, from being poor to a rich woman who can now boast of a healthy and wealthy life without stress or financial difficulties. After so many months of trying to get a loan on the internet and was scammed the sum of $5,200 i became so desperate in getting a loan from a legit loan lender online who will not add to my pains, then i decided to contact a friend of mine who recently got a loan online, we discussed about the issue and to our conclusion she told me about a man called Mr Harrison Loris who is the C.E.O of Harrison Loris Loan Company So i applied for a loan sum of (320,000.00USD) with low interest rate of 2%, so the loan was approved easily without stress and all the preparations where made concerning the loan transfer and in less than two(2) days the loan was deposited into my bank so i want to advice any one i need of a loan to quickly contact him via: ( kelsoloanfirm@yahoo,com) he does not know am doing this i pray that God will bless him for the good thing he has done in my life.

  31. Dear sir/miss

    My name is Athenkosi Mkatshane I’m a student at CPUT. In 2015 I was rejected by nsfas so i decided to quit , later in the year they decided to clear my debt due to the #feesmustfall campaign. In 2016 i went back to school and applied or nsfas again, again i was rejected because ‘I do not meet the 50% academic requirement’. My APS score is 31. I dont know what to do beause now the results are out and I can’t have them cause I owe the school R20600. I cannot afford to pay.

    Please Help me

  32. Hi my name is Dineo, i am working under contract so i want to know wether my son will qualify for nsfas because i am erning R211000.00.

  33. Dear sir/madam

    My name is nozipho busisiwe mbongwa I currently applied for NSFAS to fund me in 2017,but now I am worried because I haven’t got any message or email regarding my request.please help i am really stressed.

    Yours faithfull

  34. Hi my name is Anna I am a forth year student at Unisa I currently applied to get funding from Nsfas as this is my Last year I have not received any message from Nsfas to say how my application has been processed and I am worried because Nsfas did not fund me in 2016 so i have reapplied for 2017.

  35. my name is Tshegofatso I have applied fair NSFAS on the last day(closing date) I am so stressed I haven’t even received an sms ever since the results got out not even from one of the bursaries I have applied to does this mean I won’t get the funding?
    if that is soo please help me please I might be a stranger but I really need financial help I can’t imagine my life without studying
    contact me at 0795767793 on e-mail me at http://www.tshegomakgabo@Gmail.com

  36. Hello,

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  37. Hie am Ellnes Mabuse i have applay for nsfas on the last day of closing date 30 November 2016 and I haven’t resieve any replayed yet does that means my application is unsecces pleas replay

  38. Hey…I have applied to nsfas and my status say financial eligibility evaluated….so I want to know what it means…please help…reply to this email:tokelobetse17@gmail.com

  39. Hie am Ellnes Mabuse I have apply for nsfas on the closing date of your application which was 30 november2016 I dit not get any respond from u I have only found an email that tell me that their busy processing my application , now I have resive a student no at tut so I don’t know should I cherk with them and show your email that your still processing my application pls respond my cell no( 0818073600)

  40. Hy, I would like to ask if you applied online but have errors in your form, how to fix them?

  41. I have applied at nsfas last year…nd when i check my nsfas account it says i am Provisional funded…so i dont know whether they have accepted me or not….just need answers 2 that

  42. hy i have applied for nsfas but the varsity that accepted me i didnt write it in my nsfas form…what will happend to ma bursary?

  43. NSFAS didn’t respond to me. I don’t know what to do im desperate please help.

  44. How do you know when your application is accepted by nsfas

  45. I desperately need help to furder my studies.please nsfas help me I’m an orphan depending on my partner who earns less than 3000 per month an I want to study agriculture in plant production at de university of mpumalanga I really need funding

  46. Hi ,want to find out the qualifications as a parents for my child to apply for a NEFSAS

  47. Im a student who wukk be registering st UNISA second semester so how will I be able to get NSFAS since it closes on the 20thjan
    and regiateration at UNISA star in 28 April

    • I’m a Student who will be registering at UNISA for a Second semester so will NSFAS be able to help me since they are closing on the 20th Jan and while registration open in Aprel at UNISA

  48. I want to study Bcom accounting in Damelin can nesfas give me a bursary to study there or they don’t fund students who wish to study at Damelin.. I couldn’t find space in universities because I applied late

  49. Am ester tshangana i applied for nsfas last year then i got an email on december saying “thank you for your application we will be communicating with you soon so i need to know how soon because its only 4days before registration please help

  50. This is to inform the general public, that we are currently giving out legal grants and loans to individuals with a very low interest rate of 2-3% ONLY. We fund 100% with full legal documentation for approval. We do not require a prepayment or a down payment. For more information on how to apply, kindly contact us via email: privateloantrust@gmail.com

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