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NSFAS N+ Rule Affecting 29 000 Students

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The NSFAS N+ Rule has been around for some time, making the lives of some students difficult. Students said this rule has been negatively affecting them, as some were not able to finish their degrees with funding from NSFAS. 

The minister responsible for Higher Education, Blade Nzimande acknowledged the struggles students were facing because of the rule and introduced an appeals process.

“While the N+2 rule for NSFAS students registered before 2018 has always been in place, its application has been erratic, due to data gaps, inadequacies and constraints between NSFAS and institutions.” said Minister Nzimande. 

The N+ Rule, meant that students would not be funded for their degrees past a certain number of years. Formerly known as the N+ 2 rule, it meant a degree of 3 years would not be funded for more than 5 years in total.

After receiving complaints from students, NSFAS conducted an investigation which found that there were potentially 29 000 students who were affected by the rule. 

 After looking at the findings from the investigation, NSFAS found that most students affected exceeded their maximum years of study because of medical reasons. 

 NSFAS then opened an appeals process for students affected by the N+ rule, mainly in their final year of study. 

 The appeals were opened under conditions explained by NSFAS administrator, Randall Carolissen.

 “Where students cancel their enrollment in the first semester, the particular year will not add to the ‘N+ calculation’. Where students provide medical or psycho-social evidence, that appeal will be considered. Appeals from students in their final year and have exceeded the N+2 provisions will be considered.” said Carolissen

 Minister Nzimande said by the end of the appeals process, a total of 9 541 N+2 appeals were received. NSFAS approved 8 761 appeals and rejected 780 appeals. 

 The Minister has urged all institutions to play an active role by letting students know the outcome of their appeals. 

"I therefore urge all our institutions to urgently communicate the appeal decisions to all affected students. NSFAS must also ensure continuous follow up with all our institutions to ensure that students are always notified on the outcome of their appeals." he said.

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