The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) 2023 application cycle has opened.
Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Blade Nzimande made the announcement recently during a media briefing.
Minister Nzimande says the scheme resolved to open the application cycle early, as opposed to the previous year, in order to give prospective applicants enough time to submit their applications and supporting documents.
Giving an update report on NSFAS funding for the 2022 academic year, Minister Nzimande says a budget of R43 billion was allocated to the scheme towards the beneficiaries’ tuition fees, including food and travelling allowance, and study material.
He says 985 672 applications were received with 140 636 application unsuccessful.
Of the applications received, 739 526 applications were provisionally approved for funding pending registration from respective institutions.
“[The] majority of unsuccessful applicants failed to provide sufficient evidence to support their applications for funding; exceeded the financial eligibility threshold; already achieved the highest level of qualification that NSFAS funds and being non-compliant to the academic pathways of the TVET college sector,” Minister Nzimande explains.
According to information on the NSFAS website, as of the 2021 academic year, NSFAS no longer provides funding for postgraduate courses. This includes postgraduate certificates, postgraduate diplomas, honours degrees, masters and PhD degrees.
This means the highest qualification that the scheme funds is a Bachelor’s Degree.
Improving the application system
In a bid to improve its application system and process to simplify it for prospective applicants, Minister Nzimande says this year, NSFAS has implemented a number of enhancements to the system to ensure a seamless application experience.
He says the NSFAS online application portal was re-designed to be more user friendly and closer to other platforms that prospective applicants are accustomed to such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
“The application process itself has been simplified and the questions asked are easier to understand by the public. Additionally, applicants can pause the process and continue at a later stage without restarting from scratch, something that was not possible in previous cycles, he says.
“Over and above the enhancements, NSFAS developed additional channels of application to cater for applicants from diverse backgrounds, also keeping in mind that most of the prospective applicants are young people who embrace the digital way of doing things,” Minister Nzimande adds.
The new channels include a mobile App, USSD and WhatsApp where one can apply for NSFAS funding, track application status and cancel applications, amongst other things. This was previously done via the web portal.
Furthermore, to ensure that no applicant is left behind, Minister Nzimande says NSFAS will embark on an outreach campaign to ensure that individuals who do not have access to technological devices that enable them to apply online are given the necessary resources and support to apply.
How to access NSFAS bursary
You qualify for a NSFAS bursary if you are a South African citizen who plans to study in 2023 or you are already studying at a public university or TVET college and you meet the following requirements:
You are a SASSA grant recipient.
Your combined household income is not more than R350 000 per year.
If you are a person living with a disability, your combined household income should not be more than R600 000 per year.
If you are a student who began university studies before 2018 and your household income is not more than R122 000 per year.
The application period will close on 31 January 2023. – SAnews.gov.za
Visit the NSFAS website at www.nsfas.org.za for more information on the required supporting documents and the application process.