Higher education minister, Dr Blade Nzimande announced the opening of the 2022 National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) applications. During an October 28 briefing, Nzimande announced that applications will open November 2 2021 and close January 7 2022. Nzimande was joined by NSFAS board chairperson Ernest Khosa.
Nzimande addressed concerns about the late opening. “I am aware that there has been some concern about the perceived late opening of applications in 2021. However, I would like to reassure you that this will, in no way, disadvantage those who seek NSFAS support for their post-school studies.”
Ahead of the opening of applications, Nzimande visited the Nsfas head offices to assess the funding scheme’s readiness. Nzimande said: “I am quite confident from the demonstration I have seen, that we are ready to open the 2022 online application for eligible students.”
Applications are open for applicants who would need government bursaries to further their studies. Nsfas funds eligible students at any of the 25 public universities or 50 TVET Colleges including students who previously studied without Nsfas.
The government has categorised students into different cohorts.
- A First-Time Entering Student (FTEN) who are SASSA beneficiaries (Cohort 1)
- A Returning Student, who are also SASSA beneficiaries. (Cohort 2)
- A First-Time Entering Student who are not SASSA beneficiaries (Cohort 3)
- A Returning Student, who are also not SASSA beneficiaries. (Cohort 4)
- A students living with disability (Cohort 5)
The above cohorts apply to all natural citizens and permanent residents (As per South African Citizenship Act, 1995 (Act No.88 of 1995).
During the briefing, Nzimande said: “The NSFAS board has assured me the 2022 applications will be handled efficiently.” Nzimande announced that NSFAS funding for university and TVET college bursaries increased by 107% from R20 billion in 2018 to R42 billion in 2021.
The year 2021 marked the third year of “free education”. According to Nzimande, in the third year of the implementation of fully subsidised funding, the bursary grant for university students amounted to 751 858.
According to NSFAS and the department, many changes have been made to the system to make it more efficient. Due to the pandemic and various restrictions, most of the application system has been online. This has led to several issues for students during the process. Nzimande said: “NSFAS has improved its system. Most of the applicants will now know as soon as they apply whether they qualify or not. That is the new addition and it will not be everybody but it will be the majority of the applicants.”
As is usual with NSFAS, applicants will only be able to access funding if they’re accepted at a public university or public TVET College. During the briefing, Nzimande also announced that he had appointed a ministerial task team to look at student funding policy issues for the future. The task team will look at developing policy proposals for a long term student financial aid policy. This policy will take into account the comprehensive student financial aid needs of the post-school system.
“The immediate challenge relates to identifying a sustainable mechanism for supporting students in higher education and training for the future and in particular looking at alternative funding sources to widen funding for missing middle and postgraduate students,” said Nzimande.
People who qualify for Nsfas:
- SASSA grant recipients (the SASSA COVID-19 grant does not count);
- Persons whose combined household income is not more than R350 000 per year;
- Persons living with disabilities with a combined household income not more than R600 000 per annum.
Students must go through the list of required supporting documents to ensure that they have all of them before they start with the application process:
- All applicants must provide a copy of ID. A temporary ID issued by the Department of Home Affairs will be accepted;
- Non-SASSA applicants must provide ID copies of parent/s, legal guardian/guardian or spouse;
- Smart ID cards: a copy with both sides of the smart ID must be provided;
- Proof of income: applicant and/or parents/legal guardian/spouse (where applicable (non-SASSA) should provide latest payslip not older 3 months, UIF letter, appointment letter, retrenchment letter (applicant and/or parent(s), legal guardian/spouse).