While protests for free education are ongoing from students in universities across South Africa, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) celebrated its 25th anniversary by introducing a new application model which promises to make applying for financial aid easy and efficient. NSFAS has funded over 1.7 million students since its inception, at a total of R59 billion.
The new student centred model, myNSFAS system will allow students to apply only once for financial aid instead of re-applying every year. They will also be able to apply directly at NSFAS instead of applying in universities and TVET colleges.
“The myNSFAS account gives your access to your personal profile as a student or as an applicant. It allows you to complete the application form online, attach supporting documents and submit within 10-15 minutes,” says Msulwa Daca, CEO of NSFAS.
Daca believes that this new model with get rid of fraudulent behaviour from applicants compared to previous years and that all funds will reach their intended beneficiaries .The centralised application started on 1st of August 2016 and to date there have been 195 668 applications from students. With matric exams underway, applications are slow.
“We are also concerned that the number of applicants received from Grade 12 learners is very minimal. Most of the applications we have received are from university students. This is a concern because the reason for the early opening of applications is to be able to assess all applications early and communicate with the applicants before January 2017,” says Daca.
With most universities having been shut down due to fees protests, Daca fears this might have a negative effect in registration process for 2017, possibly resulting in historic debt for students and calls to all students to sign their loan agreement forms.
“We call upon all teachers and parents at home to remind the Grade 12 learners to submit their applications before the 30th of November 2016,” says Daca.