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NSFAS applications open for 2021

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The cycle this year will run for four months.

Applications for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme have officially opened for students from poor and working-class backgrounds who wish to further their studies at tertiary institutions. File image

APPLICATIONS for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) have officially opened for students from poor and working-class backgrounds who wish to further their studies at tertiary institutions.

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande said that this year the NSFAS application cycle would run for four months (from August 3 until November 30).

Nzimande said that to be eligible for NSFAS funding, applicants must be a South African citizen from a family with a combined annual household income of not more than R350 000 per annum.

“For students with a disability, the combined annual household income of not more than R600 000 per annum.

“In the current academic year NSFAS has funded over 700 000 students, 248 242 at TVET colleges and 481 339 at universities, this is a 20% increase from the previous year when we compared registration data received in the same period 2019 versus 2020,” Nzimande said.

He said that NSFAS accounts for 40% of the undergraduate population at universities and 70% at TVET colleges.

He said applications for 2021 would be done online via the myNSFAS portal as per previous years, and the portal has undergone enhancements and changes.

“These changes were informed by the lessons learnt in the previous application cycles. Some of the enhancements are for user experience, while some are security features which NSFAS has put in place.”

SA Students Congress spokesperson Luvuyo Barnes said: “Sasco views this as yet another opportunity for young South Africans to break the cycles of inequality and poverty. We view education as an opportunity to access more lucrative opportunities to participate in the economy.”

Barnes said NSFAS is a “great equaliser” of past injustices and those that are still visible in the status quo.

“We urge NSFAS to widen its range of individuals they get to fund.”

He added that NSFAS must look into policy deviation due to Covid-19 and the change to the academic year.