How to Apply for NSFAS Trimester

By Trev Gami •  Updated: 03/13/24 •  5 min read

Students studying at TVET colleges have three trimesters and are different from universities, which have two semesters. The funding mechanism is slightly different depending on the course one is studying. This article explains everything you want to know about applying for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) when registered at TVET College. 

Do You Apply for NSFAS Every Trimester?

According to NSFAS regulations, TVET college students must apply for funding every trimester. For instance, if you intend to register for trimester 2 or trimester 3, you should apply for NSFAS to cover each trimester. Unlike public universities where NSFAS provides funding for the entire course, the case differs for TVET students.

TVET college courses differ from university programs, which is why students at these institutions receive different allowances. NSFAS TVET college-funded students receive additional allowances to cover the costs of accommodation, tuition, transport, meals, and personal care. 

The needs of students at TVET colleges constantly change depending on the institutions and courses covered. For instance, the institution provides a list of the items required each trimester. As a result, the students are funded according to what they will need each trimester. Other courses are not offered during other trimesters. Therefore, they are compelled to apply for NSFAS every trimester.   

Does NSFAS Fund Trimester Courses?

TVET courses are designed to equip students with occupational and vocational skills that will make them employable in South Africa. The country is in shortage of skills in manufacturing, engineering, construction, agriculture, etc. 

TVET colleges are the drivers of this new revolution. They offer courses in different fields where students obtain various qualifications like national certificates or diplomas upon completion of their studies. However, some of these courses have different study periods. Therefore, NSFAS funds trimester courses to cater to the needs of each student.

Students who want to study in trimester 2 or 3 can apply when NSFAS opens applications. Students are usually given one week only to apply for NSFAS. The application period will be for people who want to study at any of the 55 TVET colleges in South Africa during a particular trimester. 

How Do I Apply for NSFAS Trimester?

You can apply for NASFAS funding online, visit the TVET bursary office, or go to the NSFAS head office or NSFAS application centres. To apply online, follow the steps below:

When applying for NSFAS funding, you will need documents, including a copy of the student’s South African ID/birth certificate/temporary ID/. You must also provide copies of the same documents for the parent/guardian or spouse. Remember to check the opening dates for applications for Trimester 3 funding, so you do not miss the deadline. Once you miss the application window, NSFAS will not fund you for that trimester.  

How Much Do Trimester Students Get From NSFAS?

Trimester students get different amounts of allowances from NSFAS due to various factors. For example, the stipends are limited per student to one Pre-Vocational Learning (PLP), National Certificate Vocational (NCV), and R191 course per year.

According to the DHET-NSFAS bursary rules for 2024, the following are allowances allocated to TVET students.  

The NSFAS allowances received by each trimester student vary depending on different factors. For example, the type of accommodation, distance travelled by the learner to and from their residence, and registration fees charged by the institution determine the allowances allocated to each student. Learners who travel long distances get more transport allowances.     

Does NSFAS Fund the Second Trimester?

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme funds trimester 2 annually for students studying at TVET colleges. Applications are opened for a short period every year, and NSFAS announces the opening and closing dates. To apply for NSFAS trimester funding, follow the steps below. 

When applying for NSFAS funding, you will need documents that include a copy of the South African ID/birth certificate/temporary ID/ of the student. You must also provide copies of the same documents for the parent/guardian or spouse. Remember to check the opening dates for applications for Trimester 3 funding so that you meet the deadline. Once you miss the application window, NSFAS will not fund you for that trimester. 

The NSFAS funding mechanism for TVET college students differs from public universities. TVET students should apply for funding every trimester since the courses offered are different. Others courses have short study periods, while others are not offered during other trimesters. If you want to apply for NSFAS funding during a particular trimester, be sure to submit your application on time. You will not get funding if you miss the application window, which is usually one week only.    

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