The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) offers financial support to South African students from mainly disadvantaged backgrounds with bursaries to cover study-related expenses.
This category includes students from poor economic backgrounds and students living with disabilities. The latter receive support through the NSFAS Disability Support Fund
NSFAS Disability Support Requirements
As a student living with disabilities, you are eligible to receive funding from the NSFAS through the NSFAS Disability Support Fund.
This support provides funding that covers tuition, registration fees, and allowances for living, transport, personal needs, and study materials. Beyond these, funding accessible through the support fund also caters for three additional needs such as the following:
Medical assessments: This support provides a single assessment throughout the duration of studies.
Assistive devices: Under this subhead, you receive support that guarantees access to a single assistive device throughout the duration of your studies.
Human support: Support provided under this subhead funds your ability to hire human support like a caregiver, sign language interpreter, tutor etc.
Students with disabilities generally qualify based on financial needs and academic merit. However, the support fund has the following requirements:
- You must be a continuing or returning student enrolled for studies at a public university or technical and vocational education training (TVET) college.
- You must have been enrolled for your first qualification (undergraduate degree, diploma or national certificate).
- You must hold South African citizenship and have valid identity documents.
- You must have applied to the scheme through designated platforms with your disability annexure form attached. You would also be required to provide a full medical report.
- Your medical condition must fulfil three criteria pertaining to duration, frequency and impact. In other words, you must be living with a mental or physical disability (impairment), which is, in the words of NSFAS, long-term, recurring and substantially limiting.
- You must be in good standing academically.
- You must have a combined family income that does not exceed 600,000 South Africa Rand yearly.
Can you be approved for NSFAS disability support without requirements?
Eligibility for the NSFAS disability support fund is determined by the full satisfaction of eligibility requirements stipulated by the scheme.
That stated, in other words, your application for the support fund will be rejected without the requirements. Thus, you must ensure that you have everything required before applying. However, it is useful to note that the scheme may waive the family income clause under certain circumstances.
According to the NSFAS, a student whose family income exceeds the benchmark will be considered only upon recommendation from the Disability Unit and/or the Financial Aid Office.
What additional forms are needed to apply for NSFAS Disability Support Fund?
The NSFAS only considers applications that have Disability Annexure forms attached.
The Disability Annexure A form is a disability assessment questionnaire where you describe your disability and provide comprehensive information on it along with your biodata.
How much is the NSFAS disability allowance?
Once your application has been approved, the National Financial Aid Scheme provides funds that cover a number of things. NSFAS’ disability allowance is typically structured to cover the following:
- Registration fees, tuition and examination fees. As stated by the scheme, this support is offered within a double framework of DHET Disability and NSF Scarce Skills/Disabilities.
- An allowance for learning material costs. This is capped at an annual total of 6000 South Africa Rand.
- An allowance to cover housing. This is determined with reference to the recommendation from the Disability Unit and in line with residence fees charged by the institution.
Furthermore, private residences attract different rates. Importantly, this allowance offers extended coverage for caregivers. However, this support only applies to students who live in housing units provided and administered by their institutions.
- An allowance for meals. This allowance is capped at 20,000 South Africa Rand per annum.
- A transportation allowance. This provision may be determined by two factors: the distance from the institution where one is enrolled for studies and the type of accommodation unit used by the student (i.e., private).
- An allowance to cover the cost of procuring assistive devices as well as human support. For assistive devices, you may receive a one-time payment capped at 50,000 South Africa Rand.
Human support allowance is capped at 50,000 South Africa Rand annually. For medical assistance, one can get up to a one-time payment of 2000 South Africa Rand.
Certain allowances may be periodically reviewed upwardly to compensate for inflationary pressures. Such developments are usually indicated in yearly circulars from the NSFAS.
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