Nsfas applications higher than usual this year due to job losses
Johannesburg - As more people lose their jobs due to the impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown, the National Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is experiencing an increased demand for funding.
Randall Carolissen, the scheme’s administrator, told a webinar on Wednesday that applications for the next academic year were higher than usual.
Carolissen, who spoke at a webinar hosted by the SA Union of Students (Saus), said the increased demand was fully expected post-coronavirus.
“The reason the demand for NSFAS will increase post-Covid is because of economic hardship,” he said.
“We can already see it. With still about six week to go before the cut off for NSFAS applications, we’re already at 400 000 applicants for the year. That is way above prior years.”
He said the scheme was funding 487 000 university students this year.
NSFAS had a budget of R34.5 billion this year. It funded public college and university students from families earning less than R350 000 per annum.
Continuing students whose studies were funded by their parents were reaching out to the scheme to fund them next year, Carolissen said.
“Another interesting statistic we’re seeing in our applications is that there’s a number of continuing students that are now applying for the first time,” he told the webinar which was watched by hundreds of students.
“That sort of makes sense because as people lose their jobs in the Covid19 environment, whereas you did not qualify before for NSFAS you’re now in the system (but) your mother or father lost his or her job. You now qualify for NSFAS.
“We see increasing continuing students applying and they will be competing with first-time entry students for NSFAS bursaries,” Carolissen added.
Funding of all qualifying students was critical for less campus protests, said Saus president Mischeck Mugabe, adding that student funding was an instrument for stability.
“You’d note that there will be stability in institutions where many of their students are funded. There’s a saying that a hungry student is an angry student.
“When students do not have funding for food and learning material they tend to be frustrated, emotions get to be high and they start to protest and there will be instability.”
Mugabe and Carolissen shared the sentiment that funded students performed better in their studies.