The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has paid in excess of R1.5 billion to universities, which will cover student registration fees, books, and other essential allowances to universities. The payment amount to at least 13% of provisional allocation for 2018, which each institutions may get from NSFAS.
“In terms of an agreement, Universities and NSFAS are exchanging data to confirm all First Time Entrants (FTEN) who have received firm academic offers and who have applied to NSFAS and qualify financially. Universities were requested to register all NSFAS qualifying students in terms of this agreement,” said Steven Zwane, NSFAS Chief Executive Officer The upfront payments are NSFAS’s commitment to ensuring that government policy on free education is implemented without any delays for qualifying students. No student qualifying for NSFAS with a firm offer from the institution should be expected to pay any fees upfront in order to be registered for the 2018 academic year.
NSFAS and universities have put a process in place to ensure that students with firm offers from universities who did not apply for funding but fall within the R350 000 threshold must identify themselves to the university in order to be assisted with funding. Students have to present the university with the following documentation for verification:
– Your ID
– Parents’/ legal guardians’/ spouse’s IDs
– Copies of your parents’/ legal guardians’/ spouse’s salary slips
– A signed consent form to allow NSFAS to verify household income.
Students will also be required to sign an acknowledgment of debt form issued by their university whilst NSFAS is assessing their documentation and eligibility in terms of the above criteria. This will enable them to register. Students will remain liable to pay their fees if they are subsequently found not to be financially eligible.
The new threshold of joint gross household income of R350 000 per annum only applies to first time university entrants in 2018. If a returning student has applied to NSFAS by 30 November 2017 for the first time, financial aid funding will be processed and considered. However, the 2017 NSFAS DHET general fund academic and financial eligibility criteria would apply. The combined household income threshold will be assessed in terms of the 2017 criteria and must not be more than R122 000 per annum. NSFAS will not re-open applications to returning students that failed to apply timeously.
All NSFAS qualifying students returning to study in 2018 who may have prior university debt will be allowed to register provided that they sign an acknowledgement of debt form with the university during registration.