University Funding Options for South African Students

Explore the various funding options available to South African university students, including scholarships, bursaries, student loans, and government grants.


Higher education is essential for personal development and career growth. However, in South Africa, many students face financial barriers that prevent them from pursuing their academic dreams. According to Statistics South Africa, only 3.3% of black South African youth aged 18-29 were enrolled in higher education in 2021. This highlights the importance of understanding and exploring the various funding options available to South African university students.


Scholarships are a form of financial aid awarded to students based on their academic achievements, leadership skills, or involvement in extracurricular activities. Eligibility requirements vary but often include a minimum grade point average (GPA) and demonstrated financial need. Universities, private organizations, or individuals typically award them. Examples of South African scholarships include the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation.


Bursaries are similar to scholarships but are typically awarded based on financial need rather than academic merit. Companies, non-profit organizations, or universities themselves often provide them. Some bursaries may require recipients to work for the sponsoring organization after graduation. Examples of bursaries include the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the Funza Lushaka Bursary.

Student Loans

Student loans are a form of financial assistance banks, credit providers, or universities provide. These loans cover tuition fees, books, and living expenses while studying. Upon completion of their studies, students are required to repay the loan with interest. Examples of student loan providers in South Africa include Standard Bank, Nedbank, and Absa.

Government Grants

The South African government offers grants to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds in pursuing higher education. These grants often cover tuition fees, accommodation, and living expenses. Examples of government grants include the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Bursary.

Application processes and deadlines for these funding options vary. Students should visit the websites of the respective funding organizations or consult with their university’s financial aid office for more information.


In conclusion, South African students have various funding options to help them pursue their dreams of higher education. These options include scholarships, bursaries, student loans, and government grants. Students must explore all possible avenues for funding before giving up on their aspirations. By doing so, they can increase their chances of accessing higher education and ultimately improve their lives and the lives of those around them.