How Do You Find Out How Much You Owe NSFAS

By Klenam JU •  Updated: 03/22/24 •  5 min read

NSFAS is a bursary-based funding scheme that is offered by the South African government to prospective South African students from low-income households that want to pursue tertiary studies. The NSFAS funding scheme used to be a loan-based scheme, but post-2018 it changed to a bursary, which means that students don’t need to pay any of the funds they receive back to NSFAS. Students who received funding from NSFAS after 2018 will not owe NSFAS any money, ever. However, if students received funding prior to 2018, they will still need to pay it back if any of it is still outstanding.

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How Do You Find Out How Much You Owe NSFAS

Due to the fact that NSFAS switched to a bursary-based scheme in 2018, there are fewer and fewer people every year that find they still owe NSFAS money. Recipients of NSFAS funds after the switch in 2018 will never owe NSFAS any money as the funds are considered a bursary.

However, if you received NSFAS funds prior to 2018, there is one way to check how much you still owe the scheme:

  1. Use a phone to dial *134*176#
  2. Submit your password
  3. Click Send
  4. Choose option 2, which is ‘query’.
  5. Then you can view the cash balance as well as the transactions to see how much you owe

How Much Do You Pay NSFAS Back?

NSFAS used to be a loan-based funding scheme which means that if you obtained your funds before 2018, you would need to pay them back in full. But if the student received their funds only after 2018, they won’t need to pay anything back at all. It is also important to understand that even if the student still needs to repay the loan, one of the biggest advantages is that these funds need not be paid back during the student’s term of study. A student will only need to start paying back their funds once they have secured employment. 

Additionally, up to 40% of the NSFAS loan is converted to a grant should the student in question pass the first and second years of their study module. The total amount of the loan in the final year of study may also be converted to a grant if the student in question passes their final year at a university. Another big advantage is that interest charges will be deferred while the student is studying and will continue to be deferred for up to 12 months after the student has exited a public university.

Students that are receiving NSFAS for attendance and study at TVET colleges will receive their funding as a full bursary. These students, regardless of the year in which they received their bursary, will not need to pay anything back at all.

Do We Have to Pay NSFAS Back?

If a student obtained their funds before 2018, then yes, they will need to pay it back in full. Any student receiving funding post-2018 will not need to pay it back at all.

How Do I Pay Back My NSFAS Loan?

Students who still need to pay back their NSFAS loans have several options regarding how to pay them back. The first way is by debit order. If students don’t want to have to physically remind themselves every month to make their repayment to NSFAS, they can set up a debit order to ensure that their monthly installments are met.

Students who want to do this can visit the NSFAS website and open an electronic debit order form that they can complete and submit. A debit order will then be deducted from their chosen bank account every month to ensure that their loan is repaid in full.

A student that does not wish to set up a debit order can also make a monthly repayment to NSFAS by way of an electronic funds transfer or EFT. The NSFAS banking details are available on the NSFAS website, and students can use it to deposit their monthly repayment fee into the NSFAS bank account every month. If students do choose to go with this option, it would be helpful if they set themselves a reminder each month to ensure that they don’t forget to make the payment.

The final repayment option available to recipients of NSFAS funds is the salary deduction. Students that choose this option will need to complete an employer deduction form on the NSFAS website and submit it. This option sees the employer making deductions from the former student’s salary and paying it directly to NSFAS. This is also a good option if students are worried that they may forget to make the monthly repayments on their own.

How Long Does It Take to Pay Back NSFAS?

Fortunately, for anyone who still owes NSFAS money, there is no time limit on repayments due to NSFAS. Students that still need to repay their loans will also only be required to start making monthly repayments once their salary reaches R30 000 per annum.

Repayments are also calculated so that they don’t burden the newly-employed individual. Unemployed recipients of NSFAS funds will not be expected to pay back the loan, but they do need to inform NSFAS immediately if their employment status changes. If someone is employed though and owes NSFAS money, they will be expected to pay back 3% of their salary if their salary amounts to R30 000 per annum.

For every R6000 per annum that they earn over R30 000, the repayment increases by 1%. However, the repayment will never amount to more than 8% of the recipient’s salary. Repayments are calculated in this way to ensure that the recipient will still be able to use the majority of their salary to provide for themselves instead of just paying back a loan.

The Long and Short of It

There are ways to check how much money you owe NSFAS, but for the most part, this will not be necessary as post-2018 NSFAS switched to a bursary-based scheme which means that funds disbursed by NSFAS don’t need to be paid back at all. 

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