File image: IOL.

CAPE TOWN - South African graduates and drop-outs collectively owe the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) a total of R10.150 billion. 

This is according to Higher Education and Training Minister, Hlengiwe Mkhize. 

This towering student debt was revealed in written replies to Parliamentary questions. 

The Minister claims that 166 724 graduates owe R6.148 billion of the R10.150 billion. 

The remaining R4.002 billion in the student debt ledger is owed by those students who have left tertiary institutions without completing their studies. 

Mkhize divulged NSFAS student debt when probed by MPs, the DA’s Mbulelo Bara and the EFF’s Moses Mbath. 

The members of parliament wanted to learn the extent of student debt that has accumulated. 

READ: PICS AND VIDEOS: #NSFAS R14m student whisked off campus by cops

However, Mkhize assured the MPs that the NSFAS debt scheme only requires students to repay their debt once they are financially sound. 

“NSFAS does not have a complete and accurate record of when NSFAS debt becomes due and payable. NSFAS debt becomes due and payable when a debtor is employed and earning above R30 000 a month.” Debtors were required and expected to contact NSFAS when this condition had been met. “NSFAS therefore establishes when a debt becomes due and payable by using available SARS records but this information is an approximation”, said Mkhize. 

She added that NSFAS only wrote off debt in the occurrence of the debtor being deceased or disabled. 

“For the reasons stated above, NSFAS is not able to determine when debt is prescribed. Prescription of debt  is therefore determined on a case-bycase basis. They recognise all amounts advanced to students as debtors”, said Mkhize. 

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma on Monday released his much-anticipated Fees Commission Report. 

The Commission was tasked with assessing the feasibility of free higher education. 

Based on the Commission Report, there is a recommendation for government to increase its expenditure on higher education and training to a minimum of 1% of GDP. 

The report further recommends that TVET colleges subsidise all fees in the form of grants and that “no student shall be partially funded”. 

Read the full report: Here 

READ ALSO: UPDATE: #FeesCommissionReport free education for some

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE