NSFAS disburses funds to 623 386 students

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, has outlined the funding allocations for universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges in relation to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

“To date, NSFAS has disbursed allowances to a total of 623 386 students as per the data submitted by institutions. This number represents at least 48.5% of the total number of overall eligible students,” the Minister said.

Addressing a media briefing on Friday, Nzimande said the number of students assessed as eligible for the 2021 programme cycle is 1 286 867, with the total allocated for the university sector being 939 934 students and 346 933 students for the TVET Colleges.

These include new and continuing students.

“Because of the fact that not all eligible students may not eventually secure a space at an institution of higher learning, according to the data received for the 2021 academic year, 47% (444 609) of funding eligible university students have confirmed registration at institutions and this is evidenced through registration data submitted and processed by NSFAS,” Nzimande said.

Among the 444 609 students, at least 2% will not have their NSFAS funding confirmed as they fall within the category of registration data non-conformities/exceptions.

These students are found to be non-compliant based on the information received.

NSFAS has made two payments to universities since the start of the 2021 academic year.

“The first payment was made on 9 April 2021. NSFAS paid an advance amount of approximately R7.9 billion to cover March and April allowances to students at universities; and the second payment was made on 10 June 2021.

“A further R6.9 billion was paid over after a reconciliation was effected, based on the value of registration data received. This payment was made to cover the months of May, June and July 2021,” the Minister said.

Funding, registration and disbursements for TVETs

In relation to TVET colleges, NSFAS started making upfront payments to institutions in February 2021.

“Out of 365 191 students, there are 202 460 students who are funded for the first academic cycles that NSFAS has made a funding allocation for.

“While 223 410 students have been claimed for by colleges, 20 950 are identified as registration data exceptions which NSFAS categorised as multiple registrations and where students are changing courses which is in contravention of the TVET funding rules,” the Minister said.

NSFAS made provisional funding for 365 191 students to study in colleges for the 2021 programme.

He said a total of 223 410 students’ registration data records was received from institutions as at the end of June 2021 inclusive of Annual, Trimester 1, and Trimester 2.

“A total of 202 460 have been successfully processed and funded with 20 950 exceptions identified. NSFAS embarked on an exercise to confirm funding with institutions and only 17 TVET Colleges responded confirming that they have 7 903 outstanding registrations to be submitted for the first academic cycle ending June 2021,” the Minister said.

The reason for the registration exceptions is due to students changing academic courses, which is contrary to the Bursary Rules and Guidelines.

TVET Disbursements and Payments

There are 44 TVET colleges whose allowances are paid directly to the students through the NSFAS Wallet platform.

“NSFAS has been able to make payments to 183 422 students. There are 20 950 students who for various reasons still need to resolve outstanding requirements for their allowances to be approved.

“These students are in exceptions which largely consists of 13 276 that were initially incorrectly funded and had subsequently been resolved,” the Minister said.

Payments to a total of 4 461 students on the NSFAS wallet failed largely due to invalid or duplicated cell phone numbers, balance of students in exceptions of cancelled registrations, students de-registered and or late submission of data by institutions.

There are 20 991 students who have not created user profiles on the myNSFAS student portal.

“This is the biggest challenge confronting NSFAS which contributes largely to the NSFAS wallet payment failures,” said the Minister.

There are 180 293 students whom NSFAS attempted to pay using the NSFAS wallet system, 6 681 of which could not be paid because of locked accounts - which means the student may have forgotten their pins - and 336 have blocked accounts - meaning there was a failed attempt to unlock the account.

Source: South African Government News Agency