NSFAS is a government scheme set up to assist people financially for their education. It can be used at any of the 25 public universities and 50 public TVET colleges in South Africa. NSFAS provides loans and scholarships that will cover your tuition, accommodation, living expenses and travel while you study.

How do you qualify for NSFAS?
You do need to be a registered student already before you apply. If you are a South African citizen, who is registered at an institution of higher learning, who demonstrates the need for financial assistance and can prove that you can achieve academically, then you are eligible to apply for funding.

How do you apply?
If you are a full-time registered student who meets the entry requirement for the scheme, you will need to complete and submit a NSFAS application form available at your institution’s financial aid office.

*Please note that funding is not automatically renewed. You will need to reapply every year, or per semester in the case of TVET colleges.

What is the selection process?
Applications need to undergo a “means test” that is used to establish how financially needy a student is. This is done by using a formula, which takes into account the household income, number of dependents in the household and the family’s cost of living. Students with an annual household income of R160 000 or less will be eligible to apply.

When do you pay back the money?
Up to 40% of the NSFAS loan can and may be converted to a bursary and the rest remains a loan that you are liable to pay back once you start working. Loan repayments are encouraged because they allow other students who are entering university to also receive academic funding.

How are the loan repayments calculated?
Loan repayments are based on your basic salary once you’ve started working. This means you only start paying back NSFAS if your salary is R30 000 or more per year. The repayment rate is at 3% of your annual salary and increases to a maximum of 8% when your basic salary reaches R59 300 or more per year. This means if you earn R30 000 a year, you will end up paying approximately R84 per month, which is not a bad deal at all.

Required documents when applying

1. Certified copy of a valid ID/ Smart ID
2. Certified copy of unabridged birth certificate (if you do not yet have an ID )
3. Certified copy of valid Senior Certificate (if you gave completed Grade 12)
4. Certified copy of ID of each household member, including parents or legal guardian
5. Certified copy of the latest academic results or record on official letterheads or logo (if you are already at a TVET college or University)
6. A copy of your proof of residence

Some useful websites:
1. Careers portal
2. South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)
3. NSFAS – 0860 067 327/ 021 763 3200 – info@nsfas.org.za


Tell us: Have you ever applied for a NSFAS loan? How did you find the process?