Does NSFAS Student Have to Apply Every Year?

By Klenam JU •  Updated: 12/26/22 •  3 min read

Registration processes can be quite daunting for first-time university/college students, from qualifying for bursaries, getting accepted into university, and providing the necessary documents to the waiting period. It can all be stressful, especially if you end up not getting accepted for the course of your choice or not even receiving a bursary. Not everyone has the funds to further their studies, which adds to the stress of applying for university.

Acquiring a bursary and maintaining it leads to a high number of South African students who either drop out or do not further their studies at all. Even with the opportunity to apply for a bursary, it is not guaranteed that you will receive it because there are several steps to follow when applying for a bursary. 

What is NSFAS, and how many students does it fund?

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is one of the most popular bursaries in South Africa, offered by the South African government. In just 2022, 690,000 South African students are funded by NSFAS. The financial aid scheme aims to spend just over 40 billion (48 billion to be exact) within the year 2022. For a NSFAS applicant to qualify for the bursary, they would need to meet the criteria set out by NSFAS, and provide the required supporting documents

Does NSFAS Student have to apply every year?

One of the pros of being a NSFAS-funded student is not having to go through the hassle of reapplying every year. The process can be quite long, so NSFAS saves existing students’ time by not letting them reapply every year. There is no need for a student to reapply because their financial need was assessed from the first time the student applied for the bursary.

NSFAS verifies all the information provided by a student through third parties, such as SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) and Home Affairs. Third parties verify identity and other criteria, such as total household income. 

How long does NSFAS fund a student?

NSFAS funds students based on the duration of their studies and not necessarily on a semester-to-semester basis. Students do not have to reapply every year, provided that they pass 50% of their modules and meet the minimum academic requirements of their university/college.

The bursary will continue to fund a student, considering the N+1 rule and the 50% pass rate. Students have the opportunity to appeal if it so happens that NSFAS stops funding them as existing NSFAS-funded students.

NSFAS can only fund one qualification per student per year. A NSFAS-funded student cannot study two courses at two different institutions in one year. If a student has been funded by NSFAS before, NSFAS will not fund the student for a second undergraduate/postgraduate degree

Does NSFAS fund a student twice?

The bursary can only fund a previously-funded student if the student was studying at a TVET College before advancing to university to complete their undergraduate degree. In the case where a student was approved for the bursary but ended up not furthering their studies, should they consider NSFAS for funding a year(s) later, they will have to start over and reapply for funding. 

It remains imperative for students to maintain their bursary, meaning that requirements stipulated by the bursary before acceptance still apply during the period of funding. i.e. If a student moves from a South African public university to a South African private university, NSFAS will unfortunately not fund the student any longer. A NSFAS-funded student should always update their information on the myNSFAS portal.

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