Students who will be applying for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) only need IDs and personal details during the application period.
The only time that supporting documents will be required is when prompted by NSFAS in cases where they cannot verify the parental relationship.
The Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, announced this during a media briefing on Tuesday in Pretoria.
He officially opened the 2024 application period for NSFAS. The applications for student funding opened on Tuesday and will close on January 31.
“NSFAS has officially opened its applications today and will close on January 31, which gives the scheme students just over two months to apply,” he said.
Nzimande said he was pleased with the improvements that the scheme has made to relieve stress on students who will be applying.
“I was pleased to hear that, as part of improving the services to students, for this application period there will be no supporting documents required at the time of application,” he said.
He explained that the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), the South African Revenue Service (Sars), and the Department of Home Affairs will provide the scheme with information to verify what the student would have declared in the application.
“In the case where a student is submitting an appeal, the documents required will be based on the NSFAS declaration form available on the NSFAS website,” he said.
Nzimande stated that students did not have to wait for matric results to apply for NSFAS, saying that they could do it right away.
Despite admitting that the scheme was facing a rough patch, he said that would not affect the application process at all.
However, the minister warned students to refrain from taking chances on robbing the scheme because they would be forced to decisively deal with the situation.
“If you try to rob the scheme, we will come for you,” he said, sending a stern warning to students who wished to defraud the scheme into a scam.
Nzimande urged students who will be applying for funding to provide accurate information, particularly parental information, so that they can be funded timeously when validations occur with Home Affairs.
“NSFAS will reject or request additional supporting documentation where validations with third parties have failed,” he said.
He said this would also ensure that students were not subjected to appeal processes to prove parental relationships. “All the first-time applicants will be able to appeal as soon as they are rejected,” he said.
This was also extended to returning students who were already funded by the scheme.
In addition, he said that students living with disabilities will be required to submit the disability annexure as they were assessed at an R600,000 threshold.
He also encouraged students to apply on time to afford shorter turnaround times for decision-making.
Touching on accommodation, Nzimande said the entity will embark on a pilot project for universities next year.
He said the TVET College pilot project had already commenced this year, and the entity will be leveraging lessons learned to improve accommodation services in 2024.
He requested institutions not to enter into long-term lease agreements and further advised them to consult with NSFAS on issues affecting student accommodation, particularly for NSFAS beneficiaries.