National Student Financial Aid Scheme: Supporting Equal Access to Tertiary Education in South Africa

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is a South African government entity tasked with providing financial assistance to eligible students who cannot afford the cost of tertiary education. It was established in 1991 under the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act and is overseen by the Department of Higher Education and Training.

NSFAS aims to ensure that equal opportunities are available to all South African students by providing funding to those who meet the required criteria. These criteria include academic merit, financial need, and registration at a public university or TVET college. The funding covers tuition fees, accommodation, transport, book allowances, and other essentials needed to pursue higher education.

Over the years, NSFAS has undergone numerous changes to improve accessibility and effectiveness. In 2018, it was transformed into a state-owned entity with the aim of providing efficient and effective student financial aid. Since then, the application process has been streamlined, and the number of students who receive funding has increased significantly. Despite the challenges it has faced, NSFAS continues to play a pivotal role in enabling students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access tertiary education and pursue their dreams.

What is NSFAS?

NSFAS stands for National Student Financial Aid Scheme, a South African government initiative aimed at providing financial assistance to eligible students who are unable to afford tertiary education fees. The scheme was established in 1991 and is funded by the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation.

NSFAS provides financial aid to students in the form of loans or bursaries, which cover tuition fees, accommodation, textbooks, study materials and allowances for transportation and other related expenses. The scheme is open to South African citizens studying at any public university or TVET college in the country.

To qualify for NSFAS funding, students must meet certain eligibility criteria, including academic performance, household income, and other factors such as disability status. Applicants must also provide proof of their financial need and academic records.

NSFAS has implemented several reforms in recent years to improve the accessibility and efficiency of their services. These include a new application system, which allows students to apply online, and a partnership with the Department of Basic Education to identify and assist learners in Grade 12 who wish to pursue tertiary education.

Moreover, NSFAS provides other student support services such as career guidance, skills development, and mentorship programs to help students succeed in their academic pursuits and prepare them for the job market.

According to the scheme’s latest annual report, in the 2019 academic year, NSFAS funded approximately 430,000 students, covering a total of R33.2 billion in tuition fees and allowances. The report also highlights that the scheme aims to improve its payment systems to ensure that funds are disbursed to students on time and that there is more stringent fraud prevention measures in place.

In conclusion, NSFAS is an essential initiative in South Africa that helps ensure access to higher education for eligible students who otherwise may not be able to afford it. The scheme’s efforts to improve its processes and support services are promising steps towards providing more efficient and accessible financial aid to deserving students across the country.

NSFAS Application Requirements

Applying for NSFAS funding can be a lifesaver for students who can’t afford to pay their fees. However, there are certain requirements that must be met to qualify for funding:

Financial Requirements

To be eligible for NSFAS funding, applicants must come from households with a combined income of less than R350,000 per year. This includes the applicant’s own income, as well as their parents’ or guardians’ income. Applicants must also provide proof of income, such as a salary slip or affidavit.

Academic Requirements

NSFAS funding is primarily aimed at those who are academically deserving but financially needy. As such, applicants must meet certain academic requirements, including:

  • Having passed Grade 9 or higher
  • Being accepted or registered at a public university or TVET college
  • Meeting the minimum academic requirements of the institution they wish to attend

Citizenship and Residency Requirements

Applicants must be South African citizens, or permanent residents with a valid South African ID. Those with refugee status or asylum seeker status are also eligible to apply.

Required Documents

In addition to meeting the above requirements, applicants must provide the following documents:

  • Certified copy of their ID or birth certificate
  • Certified copy of their guardian’s ID or birth certificate if applicable
  • Proof of income, either in the form of a salary slip, affidavit, or proof of grant
  • Academic record or acceptance letter from a public university or TVET college
  • Proof of registration for students who are currently enrolled at a public university or TVET college

Overall, meeting these requirements and providing the necessary documentation is essential to successfully apply for NSFAS funding. Prospective applicants are encouraged to read the guidelines and ensure that they meet all the criteria before submitting their applications.

NSFAS Application Process

Applying for financial aid through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) can seem daunting, but with the right information, it can be a straightforward and simple process. Here are the steps to follow when applying for NSFAS funding:

  1. Check your eligibility: Before beginning the application process, make sure you are eligible to apply for NSFAS funding. Generally, recipients must be South African citizens, registered at a public university or TVET college, and come from a household with a combined annual income of less than R350,000.
  2. Gather your documents: You will need to provide several documents when applying for NSFAS funding, including a certified copy of your ID, your parents’ or guardians’ IDs, proof of their income, academic records, and a completed consent form. Be sure to gather all necessary documents and have them ready before beginning your application.
  3. Register and create an account: First-time applicants will need to register on the NSFAS website and create an account. Be sure to use a valid email address and cellphone number, as these will be used to communicate with you throughout the application process.
  4. Complete the application form: Once you have registered and logged in, you can begin filling out the online application form. Make sure to provide accurate and complete information, as any discrepancies could result in a delay or rejection of your application.
  5. Submit your application: After completing the form, you will need to sign and submit it, along with all supporting documents, by the application deadline. The deadline for 2021 NSFAS applications is 30 November 2020.
  6. Track your application status: After submitting your application, you can track its status on the NSFAS website. You will also receive updates via email and SMS as your application is processed.

Applying for NSFAS funding can be an excellent opportunity for eligible students to access financial assistance for their studies. By following the steps outlined above and submitting a complete and accurate application before the deadline, applicants can increase their chances of receiving funding.

NSFAS Funding Options

NSFAS is a financial aid scheme set up to help South African students cover the cost of higher education. NSFAS provides funding for both tuition and living expenses, such as housing, meals, and books. There are a few different funding options available through NSFAS, including:

  1. Bursaries: NSFAS offers bursaries to academically deserving students who come from low-income families. A bursary is a financial award that does not need to be repaid, provided that the student meets certain academic requirements. Bursaries may cover tuition fees, accommodation, and a stipend for basic living expenses.
  2. Loans: NSFAS also offers loans to students who are not eligible for a bursary but can prove that they come from a low-income household. The loans have low interest rates and do not need to be repaid until after the student has graduated and started earning a certain amount. Repayments are made through salary deductions.
  3. TVET College students: TVET College students can also apply for funding through NSFAS to cover tuition and living expenses. The funding is available for both full-time and part-time students.
  4. NSFAS Wallet: The NSFAS Wallet is a digital account that students can use to receive their allowances and make payments. The Wallet can be used to buy food, clothes, and other basic necessities, and students can also withdraw cash at ATMs.
  5. Work Study Programme: NSFAS provides a Work Study Programme to help students earn money while they study. Students are matched with part-time work opportunities on campus or in the local community. They can earn money to cover their living expenses and gain valuable work experience at the same time.

NSFAS funding options can be a lifeline for South African students who want to pursue higher education but cannot afford to pay for it themselves. However, it is important to note that the funding options do have certain criteria and requirements that must be met, and students should carefully consider their options before applying.

NSFAS Appeals Process

NSFAS is the National Student Financial Aid Scheme in South Africa, which provides financial assistance to eligible students for their studies at tertiary education institutions. However, not all students receive funding even if they meet the criteria, and those who are rejected have the option to appeal.

Eligibility for Appeals

Students who have applied for NSFAS funding but were not approved, or those whose funding was withdrawn or cancelled, may submit an appeal. The appeals are considered based on the applicant’s financial, academic and personal circumstances.

Filing an Appeal

To initiate an appeal, students must fill out an appeals form which can be found on the NSFAS website or from the financial aid offices at their institution. Applicants must provide reasons why they believe the decision was incorrect, and submit supporting documents that corroborate their claims. NSFAS has strict deadlines for appeals, and students should ensure they submit their appeal before the set deadline.

NSFAS Appeals Committee

The appeal process goes through the NSFAS Appeals Committee, which is responsible for reviewing and making a final decision on each appeal. The committee comprises of academic and financial aid professionals from different universities. The committee is independent and impartial and considers each case on its merits, taking into account the information provided in the appeal.

Appeals Outcomes

The outcome of each appeal is communicated to the applicant through the financial aid office of their institution. The outcome could be either an approval for funding, a rejection of the appeal, or a request for further information. It is important for students to follow up with their financial aid office to know the status of their appeal.


Overall, students who believe they have been unfairly denied NSFAS funding should take advantage of the appeals process. However, they should ensure that they have provided all the necessary supporting documents and meet the set deadlines. NSFAS appeals committee pays attention to appeals, and if valid reasons are provided and all supporting documents are submitted, there is a good chance of being approved for funding.

NSFAS Repayments

NSFAS provides various forms of financial assistance to students who come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa. One of the most significant aspects of NSFAS assistance is the repayment of these funds. In this section, we will discuss how the repayment process works, as well as the implications of failing to pay back the funds.

How do NSFAS Repayments work?

After graduating or leaving university, NSFAS beneficiaries are given a set period to start repaying their loans. This is usually a year after leaving the institution. The payments are scheduled to be made monthly and the amount paid depends on the amount borrowed and the borrower’s income.

The repayments are made through an agreement between NSFAS and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s administrator, the Student Loans Company. The amount paid is determined by the salary of the individual with the loan. The lower the salary, the less the individual will have to pay. The highest amount someone will have to pay is 8% of their salary.

Consequences of Non-Repayment

If a borrower does not repay their NSFAS loan, they risk having a negative credit report, which makes it difficult to obtain credit in the future. This negative report can also be used by potential employers who do background checks before hiring. Additionally, the borrower will be ineligible for future NSFAS funding if they fail to adhere to the repayment agreement.

Benefits of Repayment

One significant benefit of repaying an NSFAS loan is contributing to the financial stability of the education system in South Africa. The funds provided by NSFAS come from taxes paid by citizens and corporations, so it is vital that the money is repaid to continue providing opportunities to disadvantaged students. Additionally, repayment positively impacts one’s credit score, which can help the borrower access other forms of credit in the future.


In conclusion, it is essential to pay back one’s NSFAS loan. Not only does it contribute to the funding of future students, but it also helps the borrower maintain a good credit score. Failing to fulfill the repayment agreement can have lifelong consequences, making it critical that beneficiaries understand and adhere to the terms of their loan agreement.

NSFAS Contact Information

For students and parents who have questions about the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), there are various ways to contact the organization. NSFAS is committed to ensuring students have access to financial aid to help them complete their studies. The organization offers the following ways to get in touch:

  • NSFAS Contact Centre: Students and parents can contact the NSFAS Contact Centre on 08000 67327 (08h00 – 17h00, Monday – Friday) or via email on This helpline is available to answer any queries related to NSFAS funding, application processes, and any other student-related issues.
  • NSFAS Offices: NSFAS has offices in different locations around the country. Students can visit the offices for assistance with their application, funding, and any other student-related issues. A list of the offices can be found on the NSFAS website.
  • NSFAS Online Portal: The NSFAS online portal is available for students to check their application status, accept their funding offer, and update their personal details. The online portal is accessible through the NSFAS website.
  • NSFAS Social Media: NSFAS is also active on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Students can follow NSFAS on these platforms for updates and announcements related to funding and student support services.

In conclusion, NSFAS provides various ways for students and parents to get in touch and obtain information related to NSFAS funding and application processes. By ensuring access to financial aid, the organization aims to assist students in completing their studies and reaching their academic goals.

NSFAS Eligibility Criteria

NSFAS, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, is a South African government initiative that provides financial aid to students in need. Eligibility for NSFAS funding is based on several criteria, which are explained below.

Financial Eligibility

NSFAS funding is intended for financially needy students who cannot afford to pay for higher education on their own. In order to be considered for assistance, students must meet the following financial eligibility criteria:

  • The combined annual income of their family or sponsor must be less than R350,000 per year.
  • Students must be South African citizens or permanent residents.
  • They must be registered at a public university or TVET college for an undergraduate or postgraduate program.
  • The students must be pursuing their first undergraduate qualification or have registered for their first postgraduate degree.

Academic Eligibility

In addition to the financial eligibility criteria, students must also meet certain academic requirements in order to qualify for NSFAS funding. These include:

  • Students must have passed at least 50% of their previous year’s courses (excluding first-year students).
  • For final-year undergraduate students, they must have passed at least 60% of their previous year’s courses.
  • For postgraduate students, they must have an average of at least 60% in their previous year of study.

Other Considerations

There are a few other factors that NSFAS takes into account when assessing a student’s eligibility for funding. These include:

  • Disabilities: Students with disabilities may be eligible for additional funding to cover the cost of assistive devices, transportation, and other expenses.
  • Orphan status: Students who are orphans or have lost one or both parents may be eligible for additional funding.
  • Social welfare recipients: Students who receive social grants may be eligible for additional funding.

In conclusion, meeting the NSFAS eligibility criteria is crucial for students seeking financial aid for their studies. Eligible students must have a combination of financial need, academic achievement, and other relevant factors to receive the funding they require to pursue their academic aspirations.

NSFAS Application Deadline

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is a South African government entity set up to provide financial assistance to financially-needy students. The NSFAS application deadline is an important date for students seeking financial aid.

When is the NSFAS Application Deadline?

The NSFAS application period for the 2022 academic year opened on 01 September 2021 and closed on 30 November 2021. Applicants were advised to submit their applications before the deadline. Late applications would not be considered.

How to Apply for NSFAS

To apply for NSFAS funding, students must first create an account on the NSFAS website using their SA ID number. They must also provide a valid email address and cellphone number to receive important information from NSFAS throughout the application process. After creating an account, students can log in and complete their applications online, providing all required information and supporting documents.

Important Information for NSFAS Applicants

Students are advised to ensure that they submit the correct and complete information when applying for NSFAS funding. Incomplete or incorrect information could cause delays in the application process or even result in the application being rejected. It’s also important for applicants to keep their contact information up to date on the NSFAS portal to receive important updates throughout the process.


Applying for NSFAS funding is an important step for financially-needy students seeking assistance with their studies. Students are advised to submit their applications before the application deadline, ensuring that all required information and documentation is provided. For further information about NSFAS and the application process, students can visit the NSFAS website or contact the NSFAS call centre.


In conclusion, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) plays a crucial role in promoting access to higher education for financially disadvantaged and academically capable students in South Africa. The scheme has benefited thousands of students since its inception, helping them to realise their potential and contribute positively to the development of the country.

While there have been some challenges in the administration of the scheme, including delay and errors in the disbursement of funds to students, NSFAS has taken steps to address these issues and improve efficiency. This includes implementing a new funding model, engaging with students and institutions to gather feedback on their experiences, and increasing the number of staff to manage the workload.

Despite these efforts, there is still much work to be done to ensure that NSFAS operates smoothly and effectively. This includes addressing the backlog of outstanding applications, simplifying and streamlining the application process, and ensuring that all eligible students receive the funding they need and are entitled to.

Moving forward, it is important that NSFAS continues to collaborate with stakeholders, including higher education institutions, the government, and civil society organisations, to improve access to higher education and address the underlying socioeconomic factors that contribute to financial exclusion.

In summary, NSFAS remains a critical mechanism for ensuring that higher education is accessible and affordable to all in South Africa. With continued investment and improvement, it has the potential to unlock opportunities for thousands of young people and drive inclusive growth and development for the country as a whole.