What’s The Difference Between ISFAP and NSFAS?

By Dave Nyam •  Updated: 03/24/24 •  6 min read

Several financial aid alternatives are available for students who require financial support to finish their higher education in South Africa. NSFAS and ISFAP are two common choices. These two programs attempt to offer financial aid To help students from low-income households finish their education. However, the two programs frequently need clarification for many learners and their families, leaving them needing help deciding which to select. This post will review the main distinctions between ISFAP and NSFAS to assist you in choosing the one that is best for you.

What’s The Difference Between ISFAP and NSFAS?

Two financial aid programs are accessible to South African students: NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid System) and ISFAP (Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme). There are some significant distinctions between the two programs, even though they are both intended to give financial aid to students who might otherwise be unable to pay for their studies.

NSFAS and ISFAP vary because ISFAP is a donor-funded foundation independent of the government, whereas NSFAS is a government financial aid program. Students who live in households with incomes between R350 000 and R600 000 are eligible for funding through ISFAP, while those with incomes between R350 000 and R600 000 are eligible for NSFAS assistance.

But remember, students can only obtain ISFAP and NSFAS financing one at a time. However, students previously receiving NSFAS support are still eligible to apply for ISFAP assistance if they match the requirements.

It depends on your unique situation as to which plan is superior. The NSFAS may be better if your household income is less than R350 000 annually. On the other hand, ISFAP might be a better fit if your household income is between R350 000 and R600 000 annually.

Students who require financial aid to continue their education have excellent possibilities in NSFAS and ISFAP. It’s crucial to examine both choices and submit an application for the one that most closely matches your requirements and eligibility.

Can you have ISFAP and Apply for NSFAS?

You may apply for both NSFAS and ISFAP financing, yes. ISFAP and NSFAS are different organizations that give money to South African students from low-income homes who want to pursue postsecondary education. While helping students in financial need is the goal of both organizations, their financing policies and qualifying requirements differ.

ISFAP targets students from families with an annual income of R0 to R600 000 explicitly, while NSFAS offers to finance students from households with a yearly payment of R350 000 or less. Additionally, NSFAS assists students in public universities and TVET colleges nationwide in all fields of study. In contrast, ISFAP helps students in particular research areas and collaborates with specific universities.

Can you have NSFAS and Apply for ISFAP?

If you want to apply for the ISFAP bursary, don’t fall under those obtaining funding for another course, including NSFAS. Students from lower- and middle-class households in South Africa who are not eligible for NSFAS are helped through the Ikusasa Student Financial Assistance Programme (ISFAP). The bursary program is designed to support students pursuing careers in high-demand fields with a shortage of trained people determined to be crucial to South Africa’s economic development.

The following requirements remain crucial to qualify for an ISFAP bursary: you must be a South African citizen, currently enrolled in high school or have already graduated from it, have been permitted to pursue an undergraduate degree in the 2024 academic year, be registered at one of the public tertiary institutions on the ISFAP’s list, and earn between R350,000 and R600,000 annually in your family household. The household means test determines applicants’ ability to succeed academically and gain admission to an authorized institution.

You cannot apply for an ISFAP bursary if you have already received funding for another course, including an NSFAS. But, if you match the requirements for the ISFAP bursary and have yet to receive financial help for your current course of study, you are eligible to apply.

Is ISFAP Better than NSFAS?

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) are well-liked options for South African students seeking financial assistance. However, the extent to which one is superior depends on each scheme’s shortcomings.

A financial aid program supported by the government called NSFAS helps fund higher education for underprivileged students. ISFAP, on the other hand, is a donor-funded organization that assists students with financial needs and those in the “missing middle,” defined as those whose families make between R350 000 and R600 000 annually. Because NSFAS has a lower maximum household income restriction than ISFAP, it meets different funding requirements than the other two programs.

ISFAP’s key benefit over NSFAS is that it supports students in the “missing middle” who cannot afford tertiary fees but do not meet the criteria for NSFAS funding. It’s vital to keep in mind, though, that successful applicants can only get funding from one program at a time.

Ultimately, a person’s specific circumstances, such as household income and funding eligibility, will determine which program to use: ISFAP or NSFAS. When applying for financial help, students should thoroughly study and carefully weigh their options.

What Does ISFAP Cover?

The Ikusasa Student Financial Assistance Program, sometimes known as ISFAP, is a bursary program that offers financial support to eligible South African nationals who want to continue their education at recognized institutions domestically. The program covers the total cost of education, including tuition, lodging, books, and other expenses. Moreover, bursary recipients will receive a stipend to help with living expenses.

A complete online application form must be filled out and submitted for it to be considered by an expert panel. The program chooses students following a home means test, academic standards, registration, and funding restrictions that satisfy specific funding goals. Public and business sector collaboration provides funding for the initiative. Many South African postsecondary schools have collaborated with the ISFAP Bursary Programme, which offers financial aid for various academic fields.

ISFAP Bursary Program is a resource for eligible South African nationals seeking to continue their education at recognized institutions domestically, to sum up. With the program’s help, students can continue their education despite having financial challenges because it offers financial aid that fully covers study and living costs.

Who Qualifies for ISFAP Bursary?

The candidate must be enrolled in a South African institution of higher learning and have completed Grade 12 the previous year to qualify for the bursary. Also, they must provide proof of their need for money in the form of information about the income levels of their households. A family’s annual income must fall between zero and six hundred thousand Rand (R0) for the applicant to be eligible.

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