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NSFAS Extends Bursary Deadline for 2024 Applications Amid Outstanding 2023 Fees Settlement

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NSFAS Extends Bursary Deadline for 2024 Applications Amid Outstanding 2023 Fees Settlement

NSFAS Extends Bursary Deadline for 2024 Applications Amid Outstanding 2023 Fees Settlement. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has announced an extension of its bursary application period until 15 February for the 2024 academic year. However, this decision comes amid concerns as NSFAS is yet to settle outstanding fees from the previous year, affecting various tertiary institutions nationwide.

Current Status of Outstanding Fees

Prominent universities such as the University of Johannesburg and the North West University have confirmed that they are still awaiting payment for the 2023 fees. Despite this, NSFAS has urged universities not to hinder student registrations due to pending payments, reassuring them of ongoing efforts to resolve outstanding accounts.

NSFAS Response

In a statement, NSFAS spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi asserted that the organization has been diligently working with institutions, completing reconciliations for academic years 2017 to 2022. Mnisi confirmed that approximately R1.7 billion has been disbursed to institutions for the 2023 academic year. NSFAS is currently in discussions with remaining institutions to finalize agreements and settle outstanding amounts.

Application Deadline Extension and Financial Aid Applications

NSFAS recently declared an extension of the application deadline to 15 February for the 2024 academic year. The announcement followed discussions with the South African Union of Students president Yandisa Ndzoyiya to assess the state of readiness for the upcoming year. The scheme has received a staggering 1,745,226 financial aid applications for the current academic year.

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New Student Loan Scheme

This year, NSFAS introduced a new student loan scheme aimed at assisting students falling within the “missing middle” category, with household incomes ranging between R350,000 and R600,000 annually. Previously, NSFAS funding was only available to students with household incomes below R350,000.

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Phases and Budgets

The first phase of the new funding model is set to be implemented in 2024 with a budget of R3.8 billion, while the second phase is expected in 2025 with an estimated budget of R4.2 billion. Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande emphasized that the loan is anticipated to fund 70% of students in science, maths, and technology programs, with the remaining 30% allocated for humanities programs.

Automatic Consideration for Existing Bursary Applicants

A joint statement by NSFAS and the South African Union of Students clarified that students who have already applied for the bursary scheme need not submit new applications for the student loan scheme. Those who did not meet the bursary scheme criteria but align with the loan scheme criteria will automatically be considered for a loan.

Conclusion

While NSFAS faces challenges in settling outstanding fees from the previous year, the extension of the bursary application deadline and the introduction of the new student loan scheme aim to address the financial needs of a broader spectrum of students. As NSFAS works towards resolving outstanding accounts, the focus remains on supporting students in pursuing higher education.

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