Cape Town - The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has been authorised by Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande to increase its budget by R10 billion, some of the money collected from previous loan repayments.
The announcement was made during a media briefing after a site visit to NSFAS offices at Cape Town City Centre, on Thursday. The visit was to monitor and assess NSFAS’s state of readiness for the 2024 academic year.
Nzimande said that some of the challenges facing the scheme were not new.
“We know where some of them come from. For instance, we need to do something much more significant than we have been able to do to increase the administration budget of NSFAS.
“NSFAS handling these billions of rand has never really had the necessary administrative assistance at the necessary level in order to be able to address these problems. It’s an ongoing battle that we have. We lobby with Treasury in order to do this,” Nzimande said.
Nzimande said he recently added R240 million to the NSFAS administration budget so that the scheme would be able to improve its systems.
“And there again part of this is also money that NSFAS itself has been collecting from the previous loan system, such that the kitty now in the hands of NSFAS as I’m talking to you has increased from the R49bn of last year. Now they have R59bn. A significant increase of R10bn that is in the NSFAS kitty,” Nzimande said.
“We are confident that some of this will go to addressing some of the admin budget.”
Nzimande said that the NSFAS would be providing further details next week on the loan for “missing middle” students and how this would be accessed by students.
Another challenge was that of student accommodation.
“NSFAS is doing accreditation of student accommodation because we want to ensure that students do not sleep in an environment that is not conducive to learning. That is moving a bit slower than we would have liked to have actually moved. So NSFAS is in discussions with the institutions on how to better manage this while NSFAS is building its own capacity to be able to do this.”
During a media briefing on Tuesday, Nzimande announced that NSFAS would process up to R4.2bn as an upfront payment to all higher learning institutions, prior to the application and registration finalisation period.
This as part of an effort to ensure a smooth start to the 2024 academic year.
Out of its financial reserves, NSFAS will pay R1bn to Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and R3.2bn to universities.