The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will officially open applications for the 2022 academic year on Tuesday, 2 November 2021 until 7 January.
Higher Education and Training Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, who was addressing the media on Thursday, also announced that students will now be able to know the outcome within hours.
“I’m aware that there’s been some concern about the perceived late opening of applications this year,” he acknowledged.
However, he has assured the country that this will not disadvantage those who are seeking funding for their post-school studies.
“For a while now, applicants have complained about the time they have to wait for a funding decision from the scheme if they had applied. This was due to the thorough verification process needed to identify eligible students.”
However, Nzimande said the scheme has developed a more user-friendly system that will provide real-time responses without compromising the application validation process.
“Real-time means that students will know as soon as they apply almost there and then whether they qualify or not. That is the new addition,” he explained.
According to the Minister, the majority of prospective students will know their fate almost immediately, while for others it may take up to 48 hours with a few exceptions that will go beyond that.
“NSFAS began working on this process earlier in this year and time was needed to perfect the process and this meant that applications could not open in September as usual,” he told journalists, adding that it was critical to wait until the system was ready for implementation.
“I’m assured by NSFAS that the new faster application process will make up for any perceived loss time and will see many students receive their funding results much faster.”
He believes that this move will enable the processes and enabling technologies centred on the organisation’s ability to assess, confirm, and communicate eligibility decisions to students.
The revamp also entail a partial system re-design with a fresh look and integration with some of the department’s key partners such as South African Revenue Services, Department of Home Affairs, Department of Basic Education, Independent Examination Board and credit bureaus.
“The magnitude and scope of these changes warranted a delay in the launch of the 2022 applications cycle.”
He once again stressed that first-time entrants to tertiary education and those linked to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) grant funding, which makes up about 65% of the cohort of student applicants, will not be impacted negatively.
“These applicants will know immediately after applying whether they qualify or not,” he said, adding that the remaining 35% will go through further processing and be given a response much faster than previous application cycles.
The Minister has since urged students to apply as soon as possible and provide the necessary documentation to ensure that the process goes smoothly and quickly.
“The correct supporting documents are important in ensuring that NSFAS process your funding application in time for your registration at an institution of higher learning.”
Who qualifies for NSFAS funding?
South African citizens or permanent residents who plan on registering or already studying at a public university or Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college.
SASSA grant recipients (the SASSA COVID-19 grant does not count).
People whose combined household income is not more than R350 000 per year.
People living with disabilities with a combined household income of not more than R600 000 per year.
Documents to be submitted:
Copy of ID or temporary ID issued by Home Affairs will be accepted.
Non-SASSA applicants must provide ID copies of parent/s, legal guardian/guardian or spouse.
Copy with both sides of the Smart ID.
Applicant and/or parents/legal guardian/spouse (where applicable non-SASSA) should provide latest payslip not older than three months, Unemployment Insurance Fund letter, appointment letter, retrenchment letter.
Source: South African Government News Agency