In December 2017,  president Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) would be offering fully subsidised higher education and training to poor and working-class South Africans.

Sounds too good to be true? It gets better! The best part of this offer is that applying for NSFAS funding is easy and there are plenty of resources available to help you every step of the way.

Here is a summary of everything you need to know about the NSFAS bursary:

What does the NSFAS bursary cover?

NSFAS provides financial assistance in the form of a study bursary to qualifying students who wish to study or are already studying at TVET colleges and public universities.

Applicants who are approved for NSFAS funding are covered for the following:

  • Registration
  • Tuition​

Allowances for:

  • Food
  • Accommodation or transport
  • Learning material
  • Personal care
Dona van Eeden, postgraduate student at Stellenbosch University. Photo: Rumbidzai Tendaupenyu

Dona van Eeden, postgraduate student at Stellenbosch University. Photo: Rumbidzai Tendaupenyu

“I studied on NSFAS for 3 years,” says Dona van Eeden, who completed her undergraduate in BSc Biodiversity and Ecology at the University of Stellenbosch. “I wouldn’t have been able to study without it. My mom is widowed and already put my two older brothers through university, so this was my only option.”

The bursary covered van Eeden’s living costs at a university residence, the food she ate in the cafeteria, as well as textbooks.

“Textbooks can be extremely expensive! I’m doing a PGCE now and don’t have a full bursary, so I just wasn’t able to buy all my textbooks this year.”

“Make sure you apply by the time the admissions close,” she warns. NSFAS has to go through thousands of applications each year, and simply do not always have the resources to help you out if you forgot something or didn’t complete your application by the deadline.

Who qualifies for the bursary?

You qualify for a NSFAS bursary if you are a South African citizen who plans to study in 2021 or you are already studying at a public university or TVET college and you meet the following requirements:

  • SASSA grant recipients or
  • Your combined household income is not more than R350 000 per year or
  • Person with a disability with a combined household income of not more than R600 000 per year or
  • Student who begun their university studies before 2018 and their household income is not more than R122 000 per year
What is required during the application process?

​NSFAS may need more information from you to process your application, check what supporting documents are required and ensure that you have all the relevant information.

Make sure that you have certified and valid copies (not more than 3 months old) of the following documents before attempting to apply for funding:

  • Your own cellphone number and email address
  • Copy of your ID or birth certificate
  • ID copies of parents, guardian or spouse
  • Your proof of income or 1 year’s IRP5 (if applicable)
  • Your parents, guardian or spouse’s proof of income
  • If you are a SASSA grant recipient, no proof of income will be required
  • Applicants with a disability must submit a completed and signed Disability Annexure A Form, click hereto download
  • An applicant who is recognised as a Vulnerable Child by the Department of Social Development must provide a completed and signed Vulnerable Child Declaration and Consent Form, click here to download.
How and where to apply

You can apply online using a cellphone, tablet or computer. Follow these simple steps to apply:

Step 1: Go to www.nsfas.org.za and click on the ‘myNSFAS’ tab

Step 2: Create a myNSFAS account

Step 3: Click on the ‘APPLY’ tab and answer the questions on the screen

Step 4: Upload the required supporting documents then click on ‘submit’

After you click on ‘submit’, your application reference number will appear on the screen. The reference number will also be sent to the cellphone number and email address you provided.

NSFAS offers a wide range of support for both current and prospective students. The NSFAS FAQs pageanswers a range of queries but if this still doesn’t have what you’re looking for you can also get hold of NSFAS here. If it’s personal assistance you’re looking for, you can also visit your nearest NYDA service branch. NYDA branches are located across the country and aim to provide direct support to students applying for NSFAS funding.

The main priority of NSFAS is to provide effective access to financial aid as a way to promote success in higher and further education, and with a range of application options and a strong support structure, NSFAS makes this all a reality.