Oct 2005

Social grants and loans: Help is close at hand

When life gets really tough and you need to seek help from the state, what do you do? If you go to government for help, you can do one of two things: you can apply for a grant or you can apply for a loan. If you apply for a grant, you do not have to pay back the money you received. If you apply for a loan, you will have to pay back the money you received.

Social grants

You can apply for a grant from any office of the Department of Social Development. A number of different grants are available, such as old age grants, disability grants, care dependency grants, foster child grants and child support grant. The chief executive officer of the South African Social Security Agency, Fezile Makiwane, said 9 million people get social grants amounting R3,3 billion every month.


Organisations such as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nasfas) give loans to students at universities. Mvuyo Macanda of Nasfas said before a loan could be approved, students have to prove that their families are poor and that they passed the previous year. He said last year Nasfas had spent R986 million on loans to 98 000 students. The Umsobomvu Youth Fund give loans to young people to start their own businesses.

Umsobomvu does not require security for a loan. Loans can be paid back over a period of between three and five years.

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