More than 200 000 applied for NSFAS education funding

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The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has received 50 000 more applications compared to the same period last year, the scheme said on Sunday.

However, a closer analysis showed that out of the 216 758 applications received since the opening of the 2020 application cycle on September 1, 2019, only 10% of the applicants chose technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges as their preferred institution of study, the NSFAS said in a statement.

“This shows that as a country we have not yet positioned TVET education and the associated critical skills developments as an imperative choice for our national development ideals.”

NSFAS reached the 216,758 applications mark only six weeks after the opening. Applications were open for Grade 9 to 12 pupils and out of school youth who wanted to further their studies with the support of the government bursary scheme for the 2020 academic year.

Most applications were again received from KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and Limpopo, while the Western Cape and Northern Cape were far behind. NSFAS had redoubled its efforts in these provinces and had secured the cooperation of the provincial governments. Over the past week, NSFAS was invited to the Free State by the premier and already significant progress had been noted, the statement said.

Applications Statistics released by NSFAS indicated that the majority of applicants were out-of-school youth who intended further studies at public universities.

“NSFAS considers each application that we receive. When processing an application, we validate the information with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and the Department of Social Development (DSD), thereby getting a complete profile of an applicant and family. We take into consideration the total household family income, home affairs and social welfare status, higher education or admission status. Information about your school and local municipality play a crucial role in the 2020 application system,” NSFAS administrator Randall Carolissen said in the statement.

Meeting academic requirements for tertiary studies was important, as students only became funded once registered at a public institution of higher learning for approved qualifications. Applicants from working-class families whose total household income was below R350,000 per annum would be eligible to receive the government bursary. However, funding would only be confirmed or granted as soon as proof of admission was provided to NSFAS by the institution of higher learning. Applicants with special needs or a disability would take top priority, together with the beneficiaries of social grants.

“NSFAS has engaged with various provincial governments where there are low numbers of applications received. NSFAS will deploy agents to the various provinces, beginning with the Free State and the Western Cape provinces in order to assist communities in these areas to apply for funding. This will be done through community outreach programmes.

“We are very thankful for the continued support received from the premiers of the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, and Limpopo for organising NSFAS outreach programmes within their provinces to support the 2020 application cycle,” Carolissen said.

African News Agency