Students feel sting of higher fees in 2021
Cape Town - Students are anxious as they are set to face a tough financial year.
University fees have increased by 4.7% this academic year while many are yet to receive their National Student Financial Aid Scheme NSFAS allowances.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni a R24.6 billion cut in funds allocated to The Department of Higher Education and Training in his Budget Speech. NSFAS, the biggest financial aid initiative in the country, has observed a spike of 25% for this year’s applicants.
NSFAS received about 750 000 applications for the 2021 academic year, about 185 000 more than last year.
Frustrations have surged among students, as monthly student allowances are delayed despite the academic year having commenced.
Rebekah van Rooi, who is a first-time applicant with NSFAS, was approved for funding for this academic year.
“Universities have opened registration dates, mine is pending from March 1 to 12.
“I am unable to register because of the registration fee required.
“If I pay the registration fee myself, I will be held responsible for paying the rest of the fees required.
“If NSFAS is unable to approve my status and avail funds, I will unfortunately be forced to discontinue my studies.”
Third-year journalism student at CPUT, Lisa-lee Solomons said: “The delay in funding is quite concerning, considering CPUT has already commenced, with online learning having started as early as January already.
“We have not had any communication from CPUT as of yet as to when allowances will be paid out and it's almost April.”
Solomons said students depended on allowances to buy data, which is necessary for online learning, as well as to put food on the table.
Thousands of students have vented their distress on NSFAS’s Facebook page.
Many students are frustrated that registration at universities have opened, and that they have not yet received money from NSFAS to pay registration fees.
Sibongile Mncwabe, NSFAS chief corporate services officer, elaborated on the issue of the student allowances and the viability of NSFAS to fund all of its students.
“Student allowances will be released when registration data has been received from institutions.”
Mncwabe reassured all qualifying students will be funded for the registered academic years.
Mboweni said the National Treasury was working with the Department of Higher Education and Training to work on policy and funding options that will be detailed in the MTBPS, later this year.