When is the Right Time to Apply for NSFAS

By Devsh Jag •  Updated: 05/21/24 •  5 min read

When should I apply for NSFAS funding? This is one of the most common questions asked among thousands of NSFAS-funding hopefuls each year as they prepare to enter the new chapter in their lives of tertiary education.

As a former NSFAS-funded student, I’ve found that the application process can be confusing for a first-time applicant. In this article, we will provide students with guidelines to ensure that they are fully prepared for the process to come and answer a few other vital questions, such as:

When can I apply for NSFAS for 2024?

Students that were approved for funding in 2024 are not required to apply for funding again in 2024. These students will automatically qualify for funding as long as they have met and maintained the requirements set out by NSFAS in their original NSFAS Bursary Agreement (NBA).

Applications for 2024 were open from 7th November 2022 to 7th January 2024. Second-semester applications were open from 4th July 2022 to 22nd July 2024.

In 2024, R43 billion was allocated to the NSFAS funding scheme. NSFAS received 985,672 applications and provisionally funded 739,526 pending registration from the applicant’s chosen institutions. 

Is NSFAS open for 2024 applications?

Yes! NSFAS applications for 2024 were originally scheduled to open on 2nd November 2022 and close on 21st January 2024. However, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, announced that the application season for NSFAS funding would open earlier for 2024 applicants. 

Applications for funding in 2024 opened on the 28th of September 2022 and will close on the 31st of January 2024 for all students that are planning to study at a university or TVET College in South Africa. 

Minister Nzimande explained that many applicants in previous years failed to provide sufficient evidence to support their application for funding within the specified deadline.

Therefore, the application process was opened earlier for 2024 applications to allow prospective applicants additional time to submit their applications and supporting documents, giving them a greater chance of being approved. 

Do I need to apply for NSFAS again for 2024?

No! Students that were approved for funding in the previous year are not required to apply for funding again the following year. 

Once a student has been approved and receives funding from NSFAS, the funding automatically continues until the student completes their qualification as long as they meet the ongoing criteria set out by NSFAS in the original funding agreement. 

Students that applied in previous years and were not approved are allowed to apply again if they feel that their circumstances have changed and meet the funding criteria. 

How long does NSFAS take to process applications?

Providing that all the information is complete, accurate, and submitted timeously, NSFAS advises that it takes up to 30 days to provide an outcome. However, through personal experience, I’d suggest allowing up to six weeks before growing concerned.

Students should know that each application must pass through at least nine stages before funding. Here are the stages:

As the application moves through each stage, NSFAS will update the status on the student’s MyNSFAS profile accordingly.

Students are urged to note all the supporting documents required by NSFAS during the application process to reduce the possibility of delays. Here is a list of the most important supporting documents that NSFAS will require:

These make up the mandatory and most relevant supporting documents required for all applicants; however, there may be additional requirements depending on your situation.

For example, students with a part-time job or siblings who are also studying will be required to provide other forms of proof in addition to those above.

Conclusion

Students that intend to apply for NSFAS funding will also be required to register for their course through the institution of their choice. As part of the application process, students will also have to meet all the institution’s requirements to pursue the course/s that they choose to be eligible for funding. Failure to meet the university minimum entry requirements will result in the application for funding being unsuccessful. All students are urged to submit their application forms as early as possible to give them the maximum amount of time to sort out any potential issues that may arise during the application period. 

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