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Wits helps financially struggling students to register

By News24 23 January 2017

Johannesburg - The University of the Witwatersrand has made several concessions to help the majority of top students cover their registration fees.

This was after the institution met with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and other stakeholders, Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said.

Patel said DHET would cover the 2017 fee increase of 8% for South African students whose combined annual family income was below R600 000.

This included both students on the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and “missing middle” students.

The DHET would pay for all students who had qualified for support from NSFAS, including those with historical debt.

Students on NSFAS may also register without making the first fee payment in January 2017.

Those students who were still awaiting the outcome of their application from NSFAS could register and delay the first fee payment to the end of March 2017.

Missing middle students would be responsible for their own historical debt.

“The department recommended that universities assist as far as possible to register academically successful students with historical debt, if such students settle their debt or commit to payment plans.”

Patel said that all students who owed R10 000 or less, would have their debt automatically rolled into their 2017 fees and would be allowed to register.

Students who had debt higher than R10 000 would be requested to pay half the outstanding balance and enter into a payment plan for the remainder of the funds, before being allowed to register.

Interest would not be charged if students stuck to the payment plan.

“This is the extent to which the university can assist students without compromising its financial sustainability. We believe that these financial concessions will enable the majority of students at Wits to register for the 2017 academic year.”

Students who require funding for 2017 can apply via The Donation Discretionary Fund on the Student Self-Service portal.

“A new model for the financing of the higher education system is a national priority and we are hopeful that long-term solutions for the financing of the higher education system will be announced during the course of the year,” said Patel. DM

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