Ever since 2020, when I heard evidence submitted before Parliament indicating that the chronic state of maladministration within NSFAS resulted in irregular expenditure that amounted to R7.5 billion in 2017 and 2018 alone, I have put NSFAS and SASSA into the same WhatsApp group.
Especially since NSFAS attributed the lost billions to irregular records in the system, which means wrong payments were made to students at the wrong time.
This sad state of affairs truly contributes towards a migraine.
According to the Department of Higher Education, NSFAS was established in 1991 by the government to provide financial aid to eligible students from poor and working class families.
It provides fully subsidised funding for these students at public universities.
A NSFAS bursary covers the full cost of study, including tuition, registration, learning materials, meal allowance, accommodation/travel allowance, and a personal care allowance.
The NSFAS application process for 2022 opened on 2 November 2021 and was set to close on 7 January.
However, this deadline has now been extended to Friday, 21 January 2022.
This is definitely good news since everyone at NSFAS went on holiday on 15 December 2021, and only returned on 4 January.
I fully understand that employees deserve time off, but since the application process opened very late (by any standard) it makes no sense that everything shut down, and there wasn’t anyone to man the phones or see to queries on the website during this period.
That’s like hospitals closing for the holidays during a Covid peak.
It makes no sense!
Subsequently, many frustrated applicants were left to deal with a website and application process filled with technical glitches.
Applicants have reported being unable to upload documents, not being able to fill in required boxes and repeatedly getting a message saying that the server has encountered an error and their application cannot be processed.
Some people might say that perhaps NSFAS doesn’t have enough staff or the best software and systems at their disposal, and this makes them unable to cope with the volumes of applications.
That doesn’t sit well with me.
Any department that can have billions (not millions, billions) of rands in wasteful expenditure, and admits that this comes about because of paying money to incorrect people and bank accounts, cannot use the excuse of being under-resourced!
For those still needing to apply, here is important information.
To qualify for NSFAS funding, you must be:
– A South African Citizen and/or SASSA grant recipients (the SASSA Covid-19 grant does not count);
– A person whose combined household income is not more than R350 000 per year;
– A person living with disabilities with a combined household income not more than R600 000 per annum.
– A permanent resident – An individual who is in possession of a valid Permanent Residency Permit issued by the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa.
The supporting documents required:
– All applicants must provide a copy of their ID document. For Smart ID cards: a copy with both sides of the smart ID must be provided;
– A temporary ID issued by the Department of Home Affairs
Non-SASSA applicants must provide ID copies of parent/s, legal guardian/guardian or spouse;
– Proof of income: applicant and/or parents/legal guardian/spouse (where applicable) should provide latest payslip not older 3 months, UIF letter, appointment letter, retrenchment letter, this excludes SASSA beneficiaries.
How can students apply?
– NSFAS applications are submitted online through the myNSFAS portal, www.nsfas.org.za, where students can submit their applications using their smartphones or computer.
– To apply you must create a myNSFAS account online, then proceed to the application tab where you fill in your personal details.
– Applicants must ensure that they receive a reference number when they submit their application, as proof that their applications have been successfully submitted.
If you do not have a digital device or access to the internet, you can visit your nearest library, National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) or Thusong Centre to apply with the same steps.
For any inquiries contact NSFAS:
Tel: 080 067 7327
Email: [email protected] (link sends e-mail)
Facebook: National Student Financial Aid Scheme
To date, more than 600 000 applications have been received from applicants who intend to further their post school education at any of the 50 TVET colleges and 26 public universities this year.
At least 505 820 are first-time applicants.
Of these applications, 182 567 applicants were confirmed eligible for funding instantly.
The second cohort is non-SASSA applicants who receive their responses once their income verification has been concluded.
Potential applicants are urged to make use of the extended deadline, as there will be no further extension after 21 January 2022.
Let’s hope NSFAS doesn’t waste any more billions of rands and commits to helping and responding to applicants as soon as possible.
I also hope that the relevant tertiary institutions play their role in making this process painless.
Seriously, how hard can it be to get this right?