Minister of Higher Education and Training, Naledi Pandor. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency
STUDENTS are panicking following the government’s decision to halt financial aid applications for 2019 owing to payment backlogs. Applications were due to open today.

Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor instructed the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to halt its funding plans for next year until it sorted payment backlogs from 2017/18.

Pandor was to brief the media today, but it was postponed.

In the letter addressed to NSFAS board chairperson Sizwe Nxasana, the minister said: “I am extremely concerned about the reliability of the confirmed registration numbers, the slow generation of NSFAS bursary agreements, and problems in the disbursements and payments to SBux and non-SBux (a new system to pay students their allowances) institutions as reported by NSFAS management.”

Since the announcement early this week, students have shared their confusion and frustrations on social media.

First-year Unisa student Mulalo Matsea said she was panicking because she relied solely on NSFAS. “I’m frustrated, confused. My tuition fees cost around R25000 for this year alone and only half has been paid. I depend on NSFAS since my parents are unemployed. I honestly hope the minister’s decision doesn’t have a negative impact on my studies because if NSFAS can’t fund me any more, it would mean I have to drop out.”

Tshwane University of Technology journalism student Mgcineleng Mhope KamaMgaga wrote on Facebook: “No NSFAS for 2019 new applicants? Minister Naledi will be busy getting house in order next year and thousands of disadvantaged applicants' dreams will be on pause. Sad news for the disadvantaged.” Som- pisi Phinda said the future of many students would be crushed if they didn't resolve the matter quickly.