Following much confusion regarding the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and whether students could still apply for the 2018 academic year, NSFAS cleared the air and stated that no applications for 2018 funding would be reopened. This comes after an unsubstantiated rumour circulated that applications were reopening.
NSFAS will not be re-opening 2018 funding applicationsNSFAS
NSFAS issued a mini statement on its website and Twitter account which read:
NSFAS will not be re-opening 2018 applications. We will work with institutions to assist with funding decisions for students who have applied for academic spaces without having applied for NSFAS funding and others pic.twitter.com/fE7DEjWq2a— NSFAS (@myNSFAS) January 4, 2018
This ultimately means that if you did not apply for NSFAS 2018 funding in 2017, you will not be able to apply for the current academic year. In December, NSFAS issued a statement in which they clarified this by saying: "We would like to reiterate that the NSFAS application window for 2018 funding closed on the 30th of November 2017.
"NSFAS has already received in excess of 300,000 applications for first-year students who have signalled their intentions to study at universities and TVET colleges in the 2018 academic year. We have already assessed 80 percent of the applications using the new criteria, and will be communicating outcomes to all applicants from January 12, 2018."
The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), on the other hand labelled President Jacob Zuma's announcement to implement free education an historic one. However, it claimed the Heher Commission Report sought to create profit.
The NYDA felt that the commission was hijacked by banks seeking to replace NSFAS and put students further in debt. NYDA also disagreed with claims by the government that it cannot afford free education.
"We believe that the commission was hijacked by the banks for their own commercial interests. The commission report sought to create profit out of the misery of the poor in this country. It sought to replace NSFAS with banks, thereby indebting our students, their parents and government for life", it said.
In December, Zuma announced that government would fully subsidise higher education for poor and working-class students.
Prior to that announcement, after rejecting the commission report, NYDA had written to the presidency, asking them to consider the following:
- Revamp NSFAS from a loan to a full grant
What does this mean? When granting a NSFAS loan, students are required to pay back the money used to fund their academic year –– because it was a loan.
What NYDA wanted was for the loan to be converted into a grant (like a social grant to pensioners), which would mean students would not have to repay the money.
- Scrap registration fees
NYDA wanted registration fees scrapped completely, mainly because some students cannot afford them. Here are just some of the registration fee at South Africa's national universities:
University of Johannesburg -- R3,870
University of Cape Town -- R1,250
Durban University of Technology -- R3,690
University of Pretoria -- R5,000
University of Witwatersrand -- R9,340
- Wipe out historical debt
NYDA proposed NSFAS historical debt should simply be "wiped out", to assist students who have outstanding debt and cannot afford to pay back the money.
To read the full statement by NYDA: click here