Thousands Of NSFAS Missing Middle Loans Applications Awaiting Evaluation

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Despite receiving thousands of applications for NSFAS loans, just over one hundred missing middle students have been approved for NSFAS loans. There are several reasons why this may be the case. 
 


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The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has received more than 22 900 student loan applications in 2024. However, only a fraction of these, 139 students, have been provisionally approved for funding.

Introduced in January as part of the Comprehensive Funding Model by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, NSFAS missing middle student loans aim to assist students whose household incomes exceed the NSFAS threshold of R350,000 yet still face financial constraints in pursuing higher education.

Despite being above the income threshold, these "missing middle" students often struggle to cover the costs of tertiary education. Minister Nzimande revealed plans for NSFAS to offer 31,000 loans in 2024.

Currently, only 139 missing middle loan applications have received approval, indicating provisional funding contingent upon the confirmation of enrollment by the respective institutions. Additionally, NSFAS has a backlog of 12,890 applications awaiting evaluation to ensure compliance with eligibility criteria.

NSFAS were unable to automatically provincially fund students like they did with bursary applications. This is because many of the missing middle students do not appear on the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grant database. 

The Sassa grant database was used by NSFAS to immediately process thousands of bursary applications and provisionally fund more than 790,000 students. Many of these students appeared on the Sassa grant database which indicates that they meet the NSFAS means test and do not exceed the household income threshold for a NSFAS bursary. 

While 841 applications were withdrawn by students and 30 remain in progress. Around 8,345, are categorised as NOT-STARTED, meaning applicants created profiles but did not proceed with submissions.

Furthermore, NSFAS has rejected 476 loan applications, with only five applicants subsequently lodging appeals. 

The scheme aims to complete all application processing by the end of February 2024 and resolve any pending appeals by April 2024, with a budget earmarked for the deployment of these resources.

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