NSFAS Challenges Continue As DA Proposes NSFAS Funding Alternative



More than one million students are currently being funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). However, the sustainability of the scheme has been questioned with alternatives being presented by several stakeholders. 



The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) provides comprehensive funding to more than one million students currently enrolled at public universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

Howeverrecent challenges with the scheme's payment system have caused concern among students, with some student organisations suggesting that it be replaced. 

In addition to fully paid tuition and registration fees, NSFAS also provides students with several NSFAS allowances. Allowances provided by NSFAS include an accommodation allowance, a learning material allowance and a meal allowance. 

NSFAS introduced a new direct allowance payment system. However, the NSFAS bank account direct payment system has caused concern among students who were not paid their allowances for several different reasons including payment delays

Students have also complained about exorbitant bank charges and the inability to access their allowances

The Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) says students have not been receiving their allowances due to NSFAS’s administrative lapses. They added that these lapses are unacceptable as they cause immense mental stress and financial hardship for students who need money from NSFAS. 

The root cause of this issue lies in NSFAS’s failure to release funds to service providers for the disbursement of money into students’ accounts. 

DASO Federal Leader Liam Jacobs called on Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to intervene and address the issue of payment delays to alleviate the suffering of thousands of students.  

They also described the current NSFAS system as unsustainable and called on students to support the DA’s alternative student funding model.  

NSFAS Alternative Funding Model

The DA’s alternative student funding model involves providing proportional assistance to the "Missing Middle" who can partially cover their expenses. 

Their model includes a tiered system for loans and bursaries, prioritising financial support for low-income students. This system uses income bands, converts loans to bursaries based on academic performance, and aims to bridge the gap for the "missing middle." 

Additionally, the DA believes that the private sector should improve access to student funding through bank loans and sponsored scholarships.

Related Article: How To Login To MyNsfas Student Portal

NSFAS Investigation 

The Public Protector is currently investigating possible transgression of tender processes and policies for the NSFAS direct allowance payment system with a secondary focus on the four companies that won the contracts. 

Coinvest Africa, Tenet Technology, Ezaga Holdings and Norraco Corporation won the tender to pay allowances to more than a million students. The bank fees being charged by these companies have also been a contentious issue for students. 

The Public Protector has also undertaken to report any irregularities in this regard to financial authorities.

The Bid Evaluation Committee (BEC) will also need to provide a detailed explanation for every aspect of the process, including clarifying the role of NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo in bid presentations. 

If it is deemed necessary, Minister Blade Nzimande may also be subject to questioning.

NSFAS is also investigating the corruption allegations levelled against Nongogo. The allegations against Nongogo relate to their previous work with Services SETA (SSETA) and have raised concerns about potential improper practices in the awarding of bids for the direct payment of allowances from NSFAS.


Suggested Article:

NSFAS allowance.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme is remaining adamant that the new direct payment system is here to stay, despite ongoing complaints and dissatisfaction amongst students. The bursary has begun disbursing funds via the new system since July. 




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