Johannesburg – The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) says it is happy with being retained as the administrator of financial aid for poor and working-class South African students.
“The NSFAS board and management is encouraged by the decision to retain NSFAS as an administrator of financial aid for poor and working-class South African students at universities and TVET colleges through the student centred-model,” said NSFAS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Steven Zwane.
The student financial aid scheme was kept as the administrator after the announcement of free education for poor and working class students by President Jacob Zuma on 16 December 2017.
“We believe that the decision to increase the threshold to qualify for financial assistance to students from South African households with a combined annual income of up to R350 000 per annum reaffirms government’s commitment to opening access for poor and working class youth and to ensure success in higher education and training,” said the financial aid scheme in a statement on Thursday.
The organisation said it will work on reviewing its business model to implement these changes for the 2018 academic year and beyond.
“We have worked tirelessly to improve our systems, working closely with universities, TVET colleges and the Department of Higher Education (DHET) for 2018 and will adjust our systems to deal with the extended financial aid and the expected increase in the number of students who now qualify for financial assistance,” said Zwane.
NSFAS is of the view that this pronouncement, which involves doing away with the loan portion of the funding, will expand the reach and impact of free education that government has been providing through NSFAS over the years.
“NSFAS has been providing elements of free education through provision of bursaries to TVET college students over the years, as well as some university students, whose final year loans were converted to bursaries based on their academic performance.
“We are proud to have provided financial assistance to more than three million beneficiaries since our establishment in 1991 and we are pleased to continue to build on this legacy,” said NSFAS.
The organisation said this will be the most crucial time of the year as it defines new ways of working to ensure an integrated approach to managing financial aid for its current beneficiaries and first time entry (FTEN) students.
“We thank the government for the opportunity to continue transforming the lives of young people in South Africa. NSFAS is consistently working and communicating with DHET, institutions and key stakeholders on the rollout of the new funding scheme and is resourcing and aligning its operations accordingly,” said NSFAS.