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NSFAS Opens Online Applications For ‘Missing Middle’

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NSFAS Opens Online Applications For ‘Missing Middle

NSFAS Opens Online Applications For ‘Missing Middle. ’The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has officially opened its online application process for the loan scheme catering to the “missing middle” students. The application window extends from today until the 15th of February. This initiative is part of the Comprehensive Student Funding Model, spearheaded by the NSFAS board and the South African Union of Students.

What is NSFAS ‘Missing middle’.

The term “missing middle” refers to students whose families have an annual income ranging from R350,000 to R600,000. Traditionally falling outside the NSFAS bursary criteria, these students will now have access to financial support through a dedicated loan scheme.

Comprehensive Student Funding Model

Higher education, science, and innovation minister Dr Blade Nzimande unveiled the Comprehensive Student Funding Model to address the financial needs of the “missing middle.” This model aims to bridge the gap for students who do not qualify for traditional NSFAS bursaries, providing them with government-backed loans to pursue their studies.

Loan Scheme Eligibility

To qualify for the loan scheme, applicants should meet specific criteria:

  • Household annual income between R350,000 and R600,000.
  • Enrolled in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) or public university programs.
  • Undergraduate or postgraduate students, with a focus of 70% in STEM programs and 30% in social sciences programs.
  • Willingness to sign a loan agreement.

Application Process

Students who have already applied for the NSFAS bursary scheme need not submit a new application for the loan scheme. Those who did not meet the bursary criteria but meet the loan eligibility will be automatically considered for the loan.

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Consent Form Requirement

Applicants for both the bursary and loan schemes are reminded to submit a consent form to facilitate the verification of relevant information from third parties. This includes details regarding the employment status and income level of parents, guardians, or spouses of the applicant.

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NSFAS Budget and Disbursemen

As an entity under the Department of Higher Education and Training, NSFAS operates with an annual budget of nearly R50 billion. Between 2019 and 2022, the scheme disbursed R123 billion across 2,918,624 beneficiaries.

Challenges and Improvements

Over the years, NSFAS has faced challenges such as IT system failures and mismanagement. Recent efforts have been made to fortify its IT systems, prompted by attempted unauthorized access by cybercriminals. The scheme remains committed to addressing concerns raised by students, including issues related to the new direct-payment system, defunding disputes, non-responsive query systems, and accommodation accreditation backlogs.

Conclusion

The opening of online applications for the NSFAS “missing middle” loan scheme marks a significant step towards inclusive student financial support. As the application period extends to mid-February, eligible students are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to access the financial aid needed for their educational pursuits. For more information and to apply, visit the NSFAS website, portal, or mobile app.

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