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Students plagued by NSFAS application woes as deadline is extended

While the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) announced an extension of the deadline for the 2022 funding applications, some students have expressed despair with the online system. Picture: Tracey Adams/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY(ANA)

While the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) announced an extension of the deadline for the 2022 funding applications, some students have expressed despair with the online system. Picture: Tracey Adams/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY(ANA)

Published Jan 9, 2022

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While the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) announced an extension of the deadline for the 2022 funding applications, some students have expressed despair with the online system.

The initial deadline of January 7 was extended to January 21 because of the high volume of applications.

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The funding body said since the start of the application process in November last year more than 600 000 applications were received and at least 505 820 were first-time applicants.

A student accepted to study at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), said she was stuck on the first stage of the process due to technical glitches.

Litha Jejane said she tried to submit her funding application in December but only managed to create a profile.

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"The system required a copy of my ID which I submitted. I could not proceed further as the system told me the Department of Home Affairs would have to verify my details. I have been waiting for the verification since then," Jejane said.

She was concerned that she could miss out on the opportunity to proceed with registration at CPUT if the problems persisted.

Twins, Lisakhanya and Khanyisa Jejane, who are waiting for their matric exam results, also encountered difficulties with the system, which consistently prompted them to "reset passwords", so they could not create accounts.

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Zama Makhundayi, 20, from Qhayiya Secondary School in Hermanus, also applied for NSFAS funding in early December and was provisionally accepted at Nelson Mandela University.

He said he helped other students with applications using his own data as they could not afford it.

“When we apply for NSFAS funding we need data bundles. I assisted other people to apply with my own data because we (did) not get assistance anywhere else.

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“You need to travel to certify your documents at a police station. Some of us do not live with our parents, so it becomes difficult to have all the documents certified,” he said.

The South African Union of Students (SAUS) said it welcomed the deadline extension to apply for the NSFAS funding.

Spokesperson Asive Dlanjwa said SAUS was confident that the process for funding would be fair and qualifying students would receive funding.

“We have no reason to believe that students will not get the necessary funding. Specific criteria is applied when making an application. If one gets rejected, a reason will be provided based on the funding criteria,” he said.

University of the Western Cape Student Representative Council (SRC) secretary, who declined to be named, said: “We are happy that the application was extended because it gives more people a chance to apply.

“Most of the time the Grade 12 learners are not aware about NSFAS, so this is a window period for them to apply and submit all the required documents,” he said.

The new deadline coincides with the matric results which is expected to to be announced by provinces on January 21.

Some NSFAS beneficiaries were left frustrated last year.

NSFAS closed its offices for the holiday break on December 15, leaving many students with debts to settle and uncertainty on further funding.

One student, who declined to be named, said: "We were told that there was a technical glitch that resulted in the failure of payments in October. Then we were told that our banking details could not be found although they had paid some of us previously. It was made to look like it was our fault."

But NSFAS spokesperson Kagiso Mamabolo said "all payments to students whose registration data was received" had been made.

He said the application portal had now been "enhanced" to enable first-time applicants who were social grant beneficiaries to "receive a real-time response" after submitting their application.

Mamabolo said of the more than 600 000 applications received, over 186 000 were instantly approved thanks to the new online system.

"We are no longer waiting for the application window to close before we can start evaluating the applications received. We conduct the evaluation real-time as soon as the student lodges an application," he said.

He said NSFAS was anticipating "a last minute rush" as was the case in previous years.

“My concern is whether these applicants, if they are successful, receive funding immediately as late applicants do not get their allowances as they require.”

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