Why NSFAS Has Been Defunding Students


The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has announced its decision to initiate a remedial process aimed at defunding students who were allocated financial aid based on incorrect information.



This comes after an investigation into the scheme's affairs found that it funded thousands of undeserving university students over the past 6 year. 

NSFAS said that this step is being taken to ensure that funds are rightfully allocated according to the scheme’s prescribed policies, thereby avoiding any wrongful or illegal distribution.

The move comes in response to recent findings by the Auditor-General and a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) probe, which uncovered that over R5 billion had been disbursed to ineligible students since 2016.

Why Students Are Being Defunded By NSFAS 

During a committee hearing, the lead investigator of the SIU revealed that 76 institutions, encompassing funded 40,044 students, did not meet the requirements for NSFAS funding between 2018 and 2021.

While acknowledging that some students may have been defunded incorrectly, NSFAS has promised to thoroughly investigate these complaints and take appropriate remedial action if necessary. 

A process of verifying these complaints will be immediately initiated and if proven otherwise, remedial action will be taken.

The scheme stated that it remains dedicated to a student-centric approach, aiming to create an environment that allows students to engage in academic activities without inconvenience.

Why NSFAS Held Meetings University Stake Holders 

Various complaints were raised, including excessive charges, difficulties in accessing services, lack of clarity on fund accessibility, and allegations of funds not reaching the intended beneficiaries.

In response to these concerns, NSFAS has outlined several steps to address the issues raised, these include:

  • Conducting a thorough investigation into the complaints, taking appropriate action if the allegations are proven true.
  • Instructing service providers to increase their presence at higher education institutions, enabling them to respond directly to student queries regarding direct payment.
  • Ensuring a clearer explanation of the process for students to access their funds, aiming to minimise delays in the distribution of allowances.
  • Scheduling a three-way meeting on 11 July between student leaders, NSFAS management, and the service providers to address all relevant matters.

Despite the challenges faced, NSFAS has remained committed to its mission of providing financial aid to students in need. 

This year alone, the scheme has supported 1.1 million students, marking an 82% growth since 2018. NSFAS emphasises that the majority of funded students express satisfaction with the scheme, appreciating its role in making higher education accessible to the poor and working class.

NSFAS affirmed its dedication to continuously engage with stakeholders to improve its services while ensuring compliance with policies and the law. The scheme maintains that it will not be influenced by internal disagreements or parties seeking personal gains at the expense of students.

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