NSFAS under fire for cutting off postgraduate funding
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has come under fire, with social media users angry over the cutting off of funding for postgraduate applications.
NSFAS earlier this year confirmed it was experiencing a funding crisis where it was unable to pay funding for 2021 applications. This was due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted the 2020 academic year. Higher education institutions were forced to extend the academic year, which meant accommodation for students had to be catered for as well as all other student expenses paid by NSFAS.
Applications for first year students were approved mid-March.
It took a Cabinet meeting for the Department of Higher Education to get to a solution, which was to re-prioritise the budget.
Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande in his announcement about the budget changes said there would be changes in the NSFAS guidelines, but these would be kept to a minimum. He said the core aim of NSFAS was to fund first undergraduate qualifications.
“No funding for new entrance on second or postgraduates; the exception will be those who have completed their Higher Certificate and qualify for funding for a degree or diploma course,” he said.
However, the issue of postgraduate funding cuts recently resurfaced on social media with many making allegations that the financial aid has made a R440 000 to bogus students.
Zethu Ntfulini tweeted: “How did NSFAS fund 440 000 non-existent students if they don't have money? Some students were unfunded and funding for postgraduate courses was cancelled. Where are they supposed to get the money to cover the 2021 academic year on short notice?”
Milly Jonke wrote: “They said students must submit forms before getting paid private accommodation allowance and as we speak some use the living allowance to try to cover their room and food but is not enough imagine 1500 u pay R1000 room and u have to. Survive with R500 for the whole month.”
Meanwhile, NSFAS is urging past beneficiaries to repay their debts.
“Funds received through repayments are re-injected into a new budget which allows us to fund more students. Repayment must start once a debtor is employed and earning an income that is above R30 000 per year,” NSFAS said.