“NSFAS cannot confirm funding for prospective first-year students for university, colleges and any other higher education institution.”
THE NATIONAL Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is experiencing a financial crisis, hence the delay in confirming funding applications for first-year students.
Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande admitted that the government agency was experiencing a financial shortfall and that he and the Cabinet were going to discuss the matter and find a solution.
“NSFAS cannot confirm funding for prospective first-year students for university, colleges and any other higher education institution. This is causing great anxiety for prospective students given that the academic year is about to start and orientation has already begun at other institutions. There is also pressure on institutions as they are unable to finalise admissions,” said Nzimande.
He said the financial shortfall could be attributed to the impact of Covid-19, and the R35 billion budget the agency had was used to cover the extended year, 2020.
“We paid for allowances even at a time when universities were closed. The extended academic year was not allocated a budget,” he said.
He added that his department was also affected by budget cuts and because many past students, who did not previously qualify for NSFAS, now did, due to retrenchments and salary cuts. This meant an additional pool of new applicants for the financial scheme agency.
Nzimande said NSFAS would not be able to confirm applications without a requisite budget, but he said he was hopeful after the minister of finance said in his budget speech that deserving students would be supported through higher education.
“We are doing all that is possible to resolve this matter as a matter of urgency. The funding guidelines will be finalised as soon as the Cabinet makes a determination,” he said.
On a positive note, he said all returning NSFAS beneficiaries would be funded by the scheme.
Nzimande clarifies R350 grant confusion
“The R350 allegations are based on a complete misunderstanding. All Sassa beneficiaries, children on a child grant when they reach 18 and have matriculated or are going to college, automatically qualify for NSFAS.
“If you receive NSFAS grant you don’t qualify for R350 grant,” he said.