Students protesting during #FeesMustFall protests. File Picture
Students protesting during #FeesMustFall protests. File Picture

Fears NSFAS defunding 5000 students will lead to financial exclusions

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Aug 18, 2020

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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.

CRITERIA

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.

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.

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