As the world becomes increasingly digital, a laptop for your studies has moved from ‘nice to have to an essential part of the learning experience. You can’t be powered up to make the best of your learning opportunity without the right tools, after all! As the South African government looks to correct some of the challenges left in the wake of the global health crisis, particularly with regard to digital learning, the NSFAS has expanded its mandate to help struggling students access laptops through the Digital Learning Device Programme. Today, we will take a look at how to get one yourself.
How Can I Get a Free Laptop from NSFAS?
Of course, not just anyone can access this opportunity! The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursary offers financial support to a huge number (think over a million) of tertiary students throughout the country.
These bursaries are used at both TVET colleges and universities, and students from either track can apply. If you are attending a TVET college, you must be a continuing student currently registered to study in the 2023 academic year. First-time and continuing students in University programs can also apply.
When Can I Apply for an NSFAS Laptop?
If you are in the process of registering at an NSFAS-accredited institution, adding the laptop to your bursary couldn’t be simpler. Firstly, you will need a Digital Learning Device form, or DLD received from the Financial Aid Office at your campus. You will then order your laptop (the DLD) in the same NSFAS online portal you already use.
Head to the myNSFAS Online Order portal and place your order. Yes, it is that simple! Of course, you will also need to provide the name of your institution, a contact number or two, and an email address you can access.
NSFAS and your institution will then verify your registration and details as well as the order. If you pass your checks, the order for the laptop will be placed. When it is ready, either the institution or the service provider supplying the laptop will contact you.
Does NSFAS Give You a Laptop?
You will receive a laptop from the NSFAS if you are eligible. However, it isn’t technically a gift, as you will pay for it through the bursary. A portion of the costs of the laptop will be deducted from the student learning materials allowance you receive from them, currently pegged at R5200 a year.
This means that the allocated amount will likely not cover your textbooks and the laptop, so make a wise choice.
Will NSFAS Give Students Laptops?
If you meet the criteria and have placed an order through the NSFAS portal for your laptop, the NSFAS will liaise with your institution to confirm all details. If they approve, then yes, you will receive your laptop. On the website, you will have the choice of three types of laptops at different price points. Remember, this isn’t an actual free laptop- it is one that will be funded by part of your bursary.
Once they or the laptop provider has the unit ready to go, they will contact you. No one else can receive or collect this laptop on your behalf. You will need to be physically present to receive it and will sign an acknowledgement receipt when you get it. Typically, you will collect it on campus. Of course, you will have to provide them with your ID document as proof of identity along with your student card or proof of registration. For applicants without IDs, a birth certificate will do.
You will also have to agree to the terms and conditions applicable to your institution of learning before you receive it.
What are the NSFAS Laptop Terms and Conditions?
The terms and conditions to receive an NSFAS laptop are set by your institution, so you will need to liaise directly with them. You can discuss these and any other concerns you have with the Financial Aid Office on campus; when you go to fetch the DLD form, you need to kickstart the process of receiving an NSFAS laptop.
The terms and conditions typically centre around the repayments made from your NSFAS bursary money to the institution. It is important to remember you are being offered the device to help you better comply with the needs of your program and educational use, not as a freebie to use for fun. You will need to take proper care and safety precautions with it, leave all anti-malware programs and other security items intact, and cannot use it for personal use or loan/sell it on. You should not tinker with the device or try to repair it. In the event you need a repair, take it back to your institution for assistance.
And there you have it! As part of the broader push to democratise learning in South Africa, students using an NSFAS bursary to fund their tertiary education at registered learning facilities can apply for help to receive a laptop- and now you know how to leverage this opportunity for yourself.
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