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 2023?
- Is NSFAS open for 2023 applications?
- Do I need to apply for NSFAS again for 2023?
- How long does NSFAS take to process applications?
When can I apply for NSFAS for 2023?
Students that were approved for funding in 2023 are not required to apply for funding again in 2023. 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 2023 were open from 7th November 2022 to 7th January 2023. Second-semester applications were open from 4th July 2022 to 22nd July 2023.
In 2023, 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 2023 applications?
Yes! NSFAS applications for 2023 were originally scheduled to open on 2nd November 2022 and close on 21st January 2023. However, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, announced that the application season for NSFAS funding would open earlier for 2023 applicants.
Applications for funding in 2023 opened on the 28th of September 2022 and will close on the 31st of January 2023 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 2023 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 2023?
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:
- Application submitted
- Funding Eligibility
- Awaiting Academic Results/ Admission
- Awaiting Registration
- Signing of Agreement
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:
- Relevant certified copies of ID documents – This includes the students, parent or guardians, and spouse’s ID documents
- Proofs of income – This includes payslips, pension slips, or bank statements for self-employed individuals. Unemployed individuals will have to provide an affidavit confirming their reason for unemployment and sources of income, if any.
- In the event of the applicant’s parents or guardians being deceased or legally divorced, the relevant certified documents will be required, i.e. death certificates or decree of divorce.
- In the event of parents or guardians being separated, payslips of both individuals will still be required, accompanied by a letter from a social worker, religious leader, or Council confirming the separation.
- Certified copies of previous educational qualification
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.
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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