How Long Does Nsfas Fund You?



The National Student Financial Aid Scheme provides financial assistance in the form of study bursaries to qualifying students who plan to study at various TVET colleges and public universities in South Africa.



Funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) covers a range of courses and programmes offered by TVET colleges and public universities across the country.

One of the most important questions you'll ask is - 'how long does NSFAS fund you?'

According to the bursary scheme, a student will be funded for the entire duration of their first qualification providing they continue meeting the required criteria. So NSFAS aims to fund you for your full course and they don't want to leave you with only part of your course funded. However there are still limits and rules that apply to this funding.

For example, if it takes 4 years to complete your qualification, Nsfas will fund you throughout the 4 years and they will also fund you for additional 2 years if you need to re-do certain modules/ subjects.

The NSFAS N+2 Rule

This is where the N+2 rule comes into play.  

The N+2 rule means that students only have N+2 years to finish a degree. “N” refers to the minimum number of years allocated to complete a qualification (i.e. record time). The “+2” refers to the extra two years that a student may need to complete the qualification (making that the maximum time).

The TVET College N+ Rule is based on NSFAS funded academic terms at TVET Colleges. The N+ Rule does not apply to occupational programmes as these programmes are aligned to employment contracts which do not make provision for the N+1 period of study.

When you are studying at a distance university like Unisa the N period is calculated to mean double the number of years expected to complete the qualification.

If you choose to change a course you are studying you will probably still be covered by NSFAS. However you should check that the NSFAS funding will still run for long enough to cover the number of years that the course will take you to finish.

If is important to note that NSFAS does not cover second qualifications, should students wish to further their studies beyond a first degree.

Don't forget that postgraduate qualifications are also not covered so you won't receive NSFAS funding for postgraduate courses. The National Research Foundation is the body that will provide financial assistance for postgraduate courses.

If you are studying at a TVET College you should be funded by NSFAS but if you need further assistance it is best to confirm with the financial aid office that the course you are studying is a NSFAS funded course.

This includes postgraduate certificates, postgraduate diplomas, honours degrees, masters and PhD degrees.

Approval For Continuing The Next Year

You don't have to reapply for NSFAS funding every year. If you are approved in your first year you will be covered for your full course. But there are requirements to remain funded by NSFAS. This means you must pass enough of your courses to qualify. This is usually either 50% of 55% of your courses if you are at university.

At a TVET College you will usually need to pass at least 5 subjects in your NC(V) level or if you are doing an N course you need to pass 3 courses.

The other criteria is that your family has to continue to qualify under the combined household income threshold. So if your family income goes up, you may no longer qualify for NSFAS.

Here’s who qualifies for NSFAS funding:

  • All South African citizens
  • All SASSA grant recipients qualify for funding
  • Applicants whose combined household income is not more than R350 000 per annum
  • Person with disability: Combined household income must not be more than R600 000 per annum
  • Students who started studying before 2018 whose household income is not more than R122 000 per annum.

NSFAS funding will cover the following fees: registration fees, tuition fees, study material expenses, food allowance, incidental/ personal care, as well as accommodation or transport.

The scheme has advised students seeking funding for postgraduate qualifications to contact and apply through the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Student Responsibilities When Taking NSFAS Bursary Funding

NSFAS has outlined in detail what they consider to be the responsibilities of the students who receive their funding. Have a look to see that you are doing what NSFAS expects of you

6.3.1 Students must apply for NSFAS financial aid on time, submitting all the valid required documents.

6.3.2 Students must submit accurate, complete and correct information to NSFAS when applying for financial aid and when submitting appeals. Failure to do so will result in applications and appeals being rejected.

6.3.3 Should a student or applicant submit data that is incorrect or incomplete and this results in students that are funded that should not be funded, or a student being paid in excess of the actual cost of study, NSFAS will withdraw financial aid and claim the funds back from the student.

6.3.4 Students must inform NSFAS and their institutions if they have other sources of funding (i.e., double-dipping) within 10 days of receipt of such funding.

6.3.5 Students must notify NSFAS in the event of a change of qualification or when they exit a qualification.

6.3.6 Students must confirm with the institution that the qualification they register for is an approved qualification and is indeed funded (and not expired).

6.3.7 Students must meet all academic progression criteria and attendance requirements of their courses and institutions.

6.3.8 Students must meet individual financial commitments, e.g. managing allowances.

6.3.9 NSFAS students are subject to the student residence and private accommodation policies of the institution and accommodation providers where they reside.

6.3.10 Students are required to read and understand the institution policy with respect to accommodation allowances and especially note the terms and conditions when electing to shift from one accommodation type to another during the academic term.

6.3.11 Students who apply at various institutions must cancel registration at all institutions where they are not eventually formally registered to avoid dual registrations. Failure to do so will result in NSFAS blocking all payments to such students until dual registrations are resolved.

6.3.12 NSFAS funded students that register at multiple institutions have a responsibility to deregister and confirm with NSFAS within 10 days of the start of the academic term, the institution that they chose to study at.

6.3.13 NSFAS funded students must complete the NSFAS direct payment onboarding process G1 within 10 days of completing registration for the academic term.

6.3.14 NSFAS funded student must not engage in activities that aim to defraud the scheme and
fellow students

You should track your NSFAS application to see if they require any additional information from you. To find out more about the NSFAS bursary, applications and the latest changes, head to our NSFAS page


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