The embattled National Student Aid Financial Scheme (NSFAS) is still attempting to finalise the payments of outstanding 2023 allowances for 20 000 students.
NSFAS is aiming to complete the direct payment to students from various higher learning institutions by January 15.
However students have expressed their lack of confidence in this target. The entity has faced much criticism over its mandate including from parliament as it was marred by IT challenges, corruption allegations and overdue payments.
NSFAS spokesperson Ishmail Mnisi said the board members had an extraordinary meeting on December 31 to consider reports from the entity’s management to discuss the final disbursement of the 2023 allowance and the formation of the rapid response team in preparation for the new academic year among other matters.
“The NSFAS confirms that there are 20 000 allowances which are yet to be concluded. These unresolved cases of disbursements require further input and consultation with institutions.
“The NSFAS is determined to conclude all the outstanding 2023 disbursements by January 15, 2024 in consultation with the affected institutions.
“This will ensure that the 2023 bursary allowances do not affect the returning students for the academic 2024,” said Mnisi.
He said the board will have further stakeholder engagements to brief them on the preparations for the upcoming academic year, the eligibility criteria and conditions for financial aid.
A public announcement is also expected over the implementation of the Werksmans Attorneys report in relation to the direct payment service providers.
The South African Union of Students (SAUS) said NSFAS failed in its mandate as thousands of students wrote their end-year exams on empty stomachs, without toiletries, sanitary products and other necessities.
“We therefore demand all students who have outstanding allowances from the previous academic year must be paid their entire outstanding balances before the end of January 2024.
“Those service providers are still there, and subsequently students still haven’t been paid their allowances.
“NSFAS hasn’t yet taken us, students and the country at large as to a credible plan of recourse.
“We therefore demand that before the commencement of the 2024 academic year, a credible method of recourse be established and announced,” said SAUS president Yandisa Ndzoyiya.
Ndzoyoya also expressed concern about the application system stating they have received reports from applicants alleging glitches on the system, including ID numbers not being recognised by the NSFAS application portal.
“We are therefore imploring the entity to fix (this),” he said.