Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, says the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has been unable to finalise funding for new university students. The scheme is facing a funding shortfall for 2021.
Nzimande said that due to COVID-19, NSFAS had to continue paying allowances to students, even when universities were closed, to give students access to multimodal learning and teaching.
“This means we had an extended academic year, for which we did not allocate additional money,” Nzimande said on Monday.
Shortfall for 1st year students
In line with this commitment, Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni directed the Department of Higher Education and Training to work with National Treasury to identify policy and funding options to be detailed in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).
Nzimande confirmed that this work is underway, and options will be presented to Cabinet on Wednesday for consideration.
“The student funding policy is the responsibility of government as a whole, and as the Minister responsible for higher education and training, I have to get concurrence and approval by Cabinet. We are doing everything possible to resolve this issue as a matter of extreme urgency,” Nzimande said.
R350 grant confusion clarified
While students across the country await approval for their NSFAS loan application, there’ve been tweets making the rounds stating that those who are currently receiving the R350 grant from the government will not be receiving funding from NSFAS.
I understand being denied the R350 because you’re on NSFAS but being denied NSFAS because you got R350?
We must start burning things honestly
— Neoentle Remoneilwe Zwane (@miss_neoentle) March 6, 2021
There’s no way NSFAS thinks 350 is enough to cover all tuition costs. Yoh ha.a so people were not suppose to apply for relief if they wanted to study? Hehake
— Sagittarian. (@uMaZwane) March 6, 2021
You can’t compare a special grant vs a bursary. You being insensitive and thoughtless, we all understand those rules, we referring to their logic. It’s not logical to expect people who are not guaranteed to receive NSFAS to cancel 350 as if 350 is a substantial amount.
— I’m The Universe? (@mlamuli_jeff) March 6, 2021
The CEO of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), Andile Nongogo, has clarified incorrect information posted on Twitter, stating that those who are currently receiving the R350 grant do not qualify for NSFAS funding. Nongogo added that the R350 social relief of distress grant is a temporary grant meant to help the unemployed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“NSFAS would like to clarify that it is factually incorrect to say that a person who receives the R350 grant will not be funded. The NSFAS funding criteria looks at the combined total household income of R350 000,” said NSFAS.
Nongogo said NSFAS takes full accountability for the incorrect information that was shared as “this was erroneously sent by an uninformed employee”.