Fears NSFAS defunding 5000 students will lead to financial exclusions
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The NSFAS decision to unfund 5000 students whose parents earned above the R350k threshold has been described as insensitive and brutal, with the EFF Students Command saying it will lead to the financial exclusion of most affected students.
Johannesburg - The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has defunded more than 5000 students for the 2020 academic year after it found that their parents earned above the R350 000 combined household family income threshold.
NSFAS said it had received financial information from the South African Revenue Service which showed that the students in question had parents who earned above the R350 000 combined household family income threshold.
“A total of 5000 students who were funded for the 2020 academic year have been recently unfunded. A recent financial information obtained from SARS has revealed that these students declared total household family income was above the R350 000 threshold.
“The affected students will have 14 days from the date of issue to petition this decision by submitting proof of family income or change of income to NSFAS for review. The documents need to be submitted to [email protected],” NSFAS administrator Dr Randall Carolissen said in a statement.
The R350 000 per annum threshold, which means both parents cannot earn above R29 166 per month, has led to angry reactions on social media from students and commentators who feel the threshold is too low and does not take into consideration that parents support more than one child.
During the peak of the Fees Must Fall protests almost five years ago, students lobbied the government aggressively to include the ‘missing middle’ for educational funding.
The ‘missing middle’ students argued at the time that their parents who were employed by the State in jobs such as teachers and nurses, were deemed too rich for NSFAS and the banks were too expensive to approach for funding.
They lobbied for a R600 000 per annum threshold from the previous R150 000 per annum threshold for funding, but in the end, the government resolved on R350 000 per annum as the threshold.
I have a single parent who takes care of most of my family and I still didn’t qualify for NSFAS because of her salary. A salary that goes to paying debts before anything. The point I am trying to make here is that our working class parents can’t afford our university fees.— vuyi (@callmefxminist) August 17, 2020
I hate the threshold criteria for NSFAS. Being above the threshold DOES NOT mean you can afford university and it DOES NOT mean you are financially well-off. Some families are above the threshold but need to feed 10 people on it. https://t.co/ciIYRpef5Q— laylaa. (@laylaatrevor) August 17, 2020
The fact that NSFAS's internal systems failed to pick up that most students had indicated in the beginning that their household income is R350 000 or more shows how incompetent they are. How do you take a student's funding in the middle of an academic year? This is inhumane— Madumane (@KatlehoLechoo) August 17, 2020
Something must be done for the missing middle students who don’t qualify for NSFAS & can’t afford their fees. They can’t keep being ignored like a minor issue.— Renee R (@_renaey_xx) August 17, 2020
One day we’re going to talk about the middle class. The middle class who carry the tax system on their backs and yet, their children are too rich for NSFAS but too poor to afford their own fees. One day we’ll talk about it.— Tom Misch’s Wife🐣 (@MatlhagaKebo) August 17, 2020
But in the meantime, carry on looting funds.🤍 https://t.co/wDN31O6j5s
Calls to Sasco spokesperson Luvuyo Barnes went unanswered, but the EFF Student Command described the NSFAS administrator as a “spineless charlatan” who was a “thorn in the lives of the poor and students who need financial assistance”.
EFFSC spokesperson Xola Mehlomakulu said they were angered by the decision to unfund 5000 students.
“The sudden expulsion of 5,000 students for the current academic year must be rejected with the contempt it deserves, as should the failing leadership that continues to terrorize the black and marginalized.
“The sudden withdrawal of funding is very insensitive and brutal, it's consequences will most likely be the financial exclusion of most if not all those 5,000 affected students.
“Instead of consulting extensively with those affected before withdrawing funding, the collapsing funding scheme and ANC money laundering project that is NSFAS has taken a position to identify itself outside of the realities of the South African populace that can’t afford to take their children to higher institutions of learning,” he said.
Mehlomakulu said the financial aid scheme should have allowed a process to allow students to prove their inability to fund their studies, but instead, they said students had to prove their poverty.
“The dehumanizing culture of poverty Olympics the marginalized must perform in the face of comfortable land thieves and pandemic corruption is a clear signal that the ANC must be removed from both governance and leadership.
“At a time where we are calling for the inclusion of the missing middle and free education the actions of NSFAS are an uncalculated spit in the face of the student movement.
“The 76 people’s movement has proven time and again that free education for all is the most viable solution to avoid perpetuation of backward classism and marginalization of the materially needy within higher education. The time is now to challenge the continuation of problematic, disgraceful and inhumane requirements for proof of poverty as a requirement for funding,” he said.