Since its inception in 1999, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has funded the dreams of South African youth across all races, cultures, regions and gender. In 2013, NSFAS contributed R8.5 billion to fund the tertiary education of deserving and needy students. 430000 students received NSFAS support in 2014 and were able to further their education.
NSFAS assists students by providing loans to students whose families cannot afford to pay the entire tuition and residential fee amount and even allows for a book allowance if there is a need for it. But how does a NSFAS loan work?
NSFAS Do’s & Don’ts:
– Apply as soon as possible. You can apply online at www.nsfas.org.za or enquire directly at the student funding office. Do not wait for feedback from potential bursary sources. In case other bursars do not come through, you will have something to fall back on and if you are awarded a bursary, you should inform NSFAS who will then be able to assist another deserving student.
– Deadlines per institution differ so ensure you are aware of what you need to submit and by when. You have to re-apply each year thus ensure that you have certified copies of all the documents you may need at hand.
– Complete each and every single section of the application form with honesty. By being untruthful you might lose the chance of being funded and take away the opportunity to someone who really deserves it. Do not misrepresent your circumstances as an NSFAS investigator might be alerted to these.
– Circumstances change, so if you do not receive funding, you can always try again next year. And if your circumstances improve let NSFAS know that they lessen the loan amount.
– Continue to monitor other potential bursaries and funding options. Due to a shortfall in funds, the statutory body allowed for only a maximum of R64000 to be paid out per student. If need be take up a part time job not only for the experience but also to help fund books or travel costs.
– Understand this is a loan and not a bursary. If you fail you are legally obligated to pay back the loan amount. NSFAS does not require a parent or guardian to sign as a surety for the loan but does however require your parents or guardian’s payslips and an affidavit if they are unemployed.
– NSFAS rewards hard work and depending on your results at the end of the year may turn a specific amount of the loan into a bursary. If you pass your final year, NSFAS will turn the loan amount for your final year into a bursary.
– As like with any other loan, you need to start paying back your loan as soon as you start working. Your loan repayments help fund the deserving students that come after you. The onus is on you as a responsible citizen to enquire about the amount that is due and to start working on a repayment plan.