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How to fund your studies if you didn't apply for NSFAS

If you didn’t apply for NSFAS funding there are other option you may consider to ensure your tuition is paid. Photographer: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg

If you didn’t apply for NSFAS funding there are other option you may consider to ensure your tuition is paid. Photographer: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg

Published Feb 24, 2021


With the matric results out, now is the time to start executing your plan on what courses you will study and how you will finance it. The cost of education comes at a hefty price, especially if you have no bursary, sponsor or even the National Student Financial Aid Scheme funding.

But there are other alternatives you can try.

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Student loans

Financial institutions are prepared to lend you money with which you can pay for your studies. You will need to pay interest while you study and pay back the capital when you have graduated.

A student loan is paid directly to the institution where you are studying (the financial institution will need proof you are accepted and registered to study. If you are not employed because you are studying full time, you will need someone to stand as surety and pay the interest on your loan while you study. This person is usually a parent or guardian and will also have to stand surety for paying back the loan.

The amount will depend on the financial institution and how much your tuition and study and other expenses are (if you make allowance for textbooks, accommodation and more). Banks where you could apply are Standard, Absa, Nedbank and FNB.


To be considered for a bursary, you must be studying or intending to study within a specific area of study relevant to the bursary programme.

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You need a good academic history and to have passed the required subject for your course with strong results.

Bursaries can differ in what they cover – it may be the entire course or a fee percentage. Some bursaries incorporate accommodation, study material and groceries. Each provider will have its criteria, for example, you may need to work for them afterwards. You'll need to check the requirement and include a motivational letter.

Here are some bursary opportunities.

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You can also have a look here.

Nedbank also has a bursary programme that funds students with academic merit who can't afford to study full time for first-time undergraduate degrees or diplomas. These bursaries are oriented towards scarce and future skill requirements in the country, particularly the financial sector.

Students who have performed well may qualify for bursaries from their provincial department. These would be relevant to their scope of work.

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Details about funding your study options with a private company or government bursaries or scholarships can be found here.

Apply for a learnership.

This is a structured learning process. It will equip you with theoretical knowledge, as well as practical workplace skills. When you complete the process, you will have a qualification registered with the National Qualification Framework (NQF).

You will need to attend classes at a college centre for the classroom-based learning component. Learners also attend on-site training at a workplace. The practical experience needs to be relevant to the qualification. Depending on the programme, entry requirements can vary from none to Grade 12. You will be paid a stipend during this period of time.

SA Learnership has a list of learnerships and contact details.

StudentRoom has also compiled a list of learning and internship programmes.

Puff and Pass also list bursaries and internships available to undergraduates.

The government also offers bursaries, learnerships and internships.

Seta learnerships

To get a Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta) learnership, you need to have passed matric. You need to be able to speak, read and write English. You should be computer literate and not have permanent employment. You cannot be registered with any other institute in a learnership capacity or be studying at an institute of higher learning. You need to be between 18 and 30, provide a CV with contact details and references. You also need a copy of all relevant certificates and your ID. Proof of address needs to be supplied, dated within the past three months. You also need to be a permanent resident or citizen.

Here is information on the various Setas and associated contact details.

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