Unlocking Your Future: How NSFAS Can Fund Your Tertiary Education in SA

An empty lecture hall equipped with modern seating and computer setups, representative of the educational institutions supported by the NSFAS scheme.

A Brief History of NSFAS

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) started in 1996. It took over from the Tertiary Education Fund of SA. The Department of Higher Education and Training funds the NSFAS. It has provided over R30 billion in student support. This includes tuition, accommodation, and travel allowances for full-timers. These allowances help students focus on their tertiary education fully. Thus, NSFAS is vital in supporting South African students academically. In conclusion, NSFAS plays a key role in SA education.


Financial Aid Qualifiers

NSFAS Scheme: Unlock your academic potential with NSFAS, your key to comprehensive financial aid for tertiary education in South Africa. To be eligible for an NSFAS bursary, applicants must be South African citizens registering for the first time at a public higher education institution, and their combined household income must not exceed R350,000 per annum. While the bursary primarily covers undergraduate studies, a few postgraduate qualifications are also included.


The Journey from Loans to Bursaries

Before 2018, NSFAS financial aid was provided in the form of loans that required repayment once the student was employed and earning above R80,000 annually. However, following President Jacob Zuma’s announcement of free higher education for poor students in 2017, these loans were transformed into bursaries, relieving students from the burden of repayment.


Challenges and Criticism

Despite its success, NSFAS has faced its share of challenges. In March 2021, the scheme announced a funding shortfall for first-year students. Moreover, the NSFAS executive board was criticised for incurring billions of rands in irregular expenditures over the last three years.


NSFAS has greatly impacted access to tertiary education in SA. It offers financial aid for many South African students. This aid supports their academic dreams and aspirations significantly. NSFAS’ support extends beyond the individual, benefiting society as a whole. As tertiary education costs rise, NSFAS is a vital lifeline. It levels the educational playing field for all students. In conclusion, NSFAS is essential in empowering SA’s youth for the future.