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National Student Financial Aid Scheme
Overcharged students to be refunded
Tue, 11 Oct 2011 09:41
About 34 000 students who have been overcharged interest on study loans by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in previous years are to be refunded.
This was revealed on Monday by Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande during the announcement of the outcomes of the turnaround strategy implemented to address challenges experienced by the NSFAS.
The interventions, which included the restructuring of the board of NSFAS in December 2010, has seen NSFAS move from an audit disclaimer to an unqualified audit.
Nzimande said when the NSFAS recalculated every student loan in its books, it confirmed that it had overcharged interest on some student loans in previous years.
The annual financial statements show a provision of R77.8 million to refund former students. NSFAS will be contacting each one to make arrangements for the refund, Nzimande said.
He said that one of the main tasks of the turnaround strategy was to correct the value of NSFAS loan book, where an extensive exercise was undertaken with the assistance of a team including accounting, auditing and actuarial experts.
He noted that the NSFAS loan book, which incurred irregular expenditure of R25.6 million during the last financial year, is now correctly valued at R5.2 billion.
All the reasons for disclaimer have been addressed to the satisfaction of the Auditor General, said Nzimande.
The reasons for the disclaimer included the failure to provide scientifically compelling evidence to the Auditor General for writing off R589 million in interest on outstanding loans, and failure to provide evidence as to how management arrived at its estimate for doubtful debts.
The Auditor General has also pointed out the incorrect calculations of interest income of R181 million, when it should have been more.
Nzimande further announced that R200 million has been provided to enable NSFAS to grant loans to students who have completed their studies but have not received their certificates or graduated due to outstanding debt.
This will enable an estimated 25 000 students to receive their certificates and enter the job market. All students who met the requirements for graduation between 2000 and 2010 and eligible for NSFAS loans can apply for this special funding through their student financial offices, Nzimande explained.
NSFAS board member and executive committee member, Collette Caine, said the every effort would be made to refund students.
We are committed to track and refund all of them, said Caine.
NASFAS Chairperson of the Finance Committee, Nathan Johnstone, said universities were in the process of finalising the list of students who have completed their studies and qualified for the grant.
We are currently unable to give the final figure of those students as the universities are still finalising the number of qualifying students.
The hotline for students who have problems regarding access to NSFAS is 0800 872 222. - BuaNews