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NSFAS reveals it paid varsities R2.8bn up front for student registrations

NSFAS reveals it paid varsities R2.8bn up front for student registrations
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme says it has paid billions to institutions for registration purposes. (Photo: Facebook | Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

These payments were made so institutions could distribute student allowances, according to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme acting board chairperson. The majority of institutions had committed to pay students from the last week of February 2024.

A whopping R2.8-billion has been disbursed as an upfront payment for universities to register students this academic year.

This was announced by National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) acting board chairperson Professor Lourens van Staden, during an update on progress made in the payment of allowances in Pretoria on Monday, 4 March 2024.

Van Staden said NSFAS would make additional funds available in April to cover student accommodation and book allowances.

More than R580-million had also been paid to technical vocational education and training colleges.

These upfront payments, he said, were meant to register NSFAS-approved students for 2024.

Universities began registration in February, but at the time several said they had challenges with NSFAS.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Universities struggle with ‘perennial’ NSFAS issues as they focus on admission and registration

Van Staden said the board had ensured that upfront payments were inclusive of the registration period starting in January and that these institutions had adequate cash flow to cover registrations.

Van Staden took over from Ernest Khosa, who took a 30-day leave of absence in January to allow the scheme to deal with allegations against him relating to recordings distributed by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) linking him to kickbacks from service providers disbursing allowances to students.

Outa made similar allegations against Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.

Former NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo was fired over a conflict of interest involving service providers.

Read more in Daily Maverick: NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo faces axe after ‘conflict of interest’ in appointment of payment providers

Following delays owing to issues with registration details, Van Staden said the board decided to request that institutions pay the February and March allowances.

He said communication was sent to universities about the decision and financial aid managers were asked to confirm universities’ allowance payment commitment dates.

“We encourage all our institutions to submit registration data to enable NSFAS to make catch-up payments,” Van Staden said.

NSFAS

National Student Financial Aid Scheme acting board chairperson Professor Lourens van Staden briefs the media on progress in the payment of student allowances, in Pretoria on 4 March 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Lefty Shivambu)

To support institutions, Van Staden said NSFAS made two upfront payments to all institutions.

The first payment had been made on 31 January and the second on 21 February.

“These upfront payments were made to institutions for them to use the funds to distribute student allowances. The majority of institutions committed to pay students from the last week of February 2024,” he said.

About applications

Van Staden said NSFAS had received 1.936 million applications by 16 February.

Applications closed on 15 February.

On 1 March, he said:

  • Of the 1.936 million applications, 1.244 million are provisionally funded;
  • 18,345 registrations were received;
  • 59,723 awaiting evaluations;
  • 94,816 awaiting supporting documents;
  • 84,225 withdrawn by students;
  • 52,038 are in progress; and
  • 130,468 have non-starter status because applicants only created profiles and did not submit applications.
NSFAS

Students from Western Cape universities protest in Cape Town on 16 August 2023 against the introduction of a system of direct payment of allowances by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. (Photo: Ziyanda Duba)

NSFAS had so far rejected 234,113 applications and 15,174 appeals had been lodged.

In relation to the 2024 loan applications, Van Staden said NSFAS received 30,287 applications as of 15 February.

“We’ve pre-assessed and determined students who prequalify for the loan. Communication was sent to the students via the student portal to confirm whether or not they accept for NSFAS to process the loan application.”

The loan, announced by Nzimande in January, caters for qualifying missing-middle students.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Nzimande announces NSFAS acting chair and additional R3.8bn for ‘missing middle’

This was for students who applied for a bursary but were above the income threshold for that but within the loan threshold.

Van Staden said the next step will be NSFAS asking institutions to submit admission data for registered students in line with requirements of the loan.

Varsities’ commitments

The following universities, he said, committed to make payments to students: Cape Peninsula University of Technology on 29 February, Central University of Technology on 1 March, Durban University of Technology on 29 February, Nelson Mandela University on 1 March, North West University on 1 March. Rhodes University on 28 February, Sefako Makgatho University on 4 March, Sol Plaatje University on 26 February, Tshwane University of Technology on 4 March, University of Cape Town on 17 to 26 February and 1 March, University of Fort Hare on 26 February, Mangosuthu University of Technology (currently loading payments), University of the Free State (was processing payments), University of Johannesburg on 7 March, University of KwaZulu-Natal on 8 March, University of Limpopo on 26 February, University of Mpumalanga on 1 March, University of Pretoria on 4 March, University of South Africa on 4 March, Stellenbosch University on 29 February and 1 March, University of the Western Cape on 23 February and 1 March, University of Witwatersrand on 1 March, University of Venda on 26 February, University of Zululand on 1 March, Vaal University of Technology (NSFAS is currently engaging with the university for its registration data) and Walter Sisulu University on 23 February. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Trenton Carr says:

    So did they just saddle the universities to distribute the funds?
    Is that the reason it’s March 2024 and I don’t have a statement of fees yet?

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