‘NSFAS so far received 650 000 applications for 2021’

Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS
Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande says the National Student Aid Financial Scheme (NSFAS) has received more than 650 000 applications for the 2021 academic year.

The department is expecting the figure to increase by the end of the month, which is the closing date. Nzimande has attributed the increase to the impact of COVID-19 had on jobs.

“We expect this number to increase quite substantially as past experience has shown that it is in the last two weeks of the application cycle when some students tend to apply in greater numbers. Rough estimates suggest that there will be over 800 000 new applications for the 2021 application cycle by the closing date at the end of November 2020. This increase also is as a result of retrenchments and a loss of jobs or income due to COVID-19.”

Most of these applications are from KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Limpopo and social grant beneficiaries.

“We have received a high volume of applications from SASSA beneficiaries amounting to 330 000 as a result of our MoU with the Department of Social Development. KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) continues to dominate with the highest number of applications as compared to other provinces, to date accounting for 157 252 (27%) applications, 27% of all applications come from KwaZulu-Natal.”

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Nzimande also says all universities are fully committed to completing the 2020 academic year by mid-March 2021. This follows disruptions caused by COVID-19 and the lockdown.

Minister Nzimande says universities are working hard to ensure the academic year is saved. The University of Johannesburg has already completed its academic year – while the University of Pretoria has indicated it will finish next month.

Nzimande says the department has been monitoring the situation across all universities – and is happy with the progress made.

“All our universities are fully committed to complete the 2020 academic year by mid-March 2021. in total, 25 universities are set to start the 2021 academic year at end of March 2021 and one university in April. This aligns well with the release of the Basic Education National Senior Certificate results, which are expected to be released on 23 February 2021.”

Nzimande also addressed the delay in the issuing of laptops to NSFAS students. He says contracts with companies have been finalised and laptops will be issued next year.

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