The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has received a record-breaking 543 268 first-time applications. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has received a record-breaking 543 268 first-time applications.  

The closing date for applications for the current academic year was November 30. Previously, the funding scheme had received 428 929 applications, it said in a statement on Monday. 

The increase was attributed to an outreach programme the organisation had undertaken in which officials targeted small towns and rural areas. 

“NSFAS has prioritised the poor and vulnerable students and to this end just under 50% of applications have been received from social grant beneficiaries.

“The personal details and social welfare status of all applications have been validated with the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Social Development. 

 “This is a major improvement in NSFAS administration, as communication of funding decisions prior to the commencement of the academic year will allow students to enrol at tertiary institutions without having to pay upfront registration fees,” said Randall Carolissen, NSFAS administrator. 

The organisation said that students previously funded by the scheme need not panic as their 2020 studies would still be paid. 

“Funding decisions for the 2020 applications have been updated on the myNSFAS portal profiles. Applicants are advised to check and track their application status updates online. Applicants who do not have the myNSFAS portal profiles are encouraged to register on the website in order to ensure they have sight of their funding status,” said Carolissen.

He added that applicants whose documentation was incorrect or incomplete had been contacted over the festive season. 

“Of the 473 911 valid and fully completed applications received by the closing date, 346 364 were declared eligible for funding at this stage, 36 865 were withdrawn, while 28 979 did not meet the minimum funding criteria. These applications are being reviewed.”

“The remaining 61 703 applicants submitted documents of poor quality, which were subsequently validated by the Department of Home Affairs.”

African News Agency