NSFAS is an acronym that stands for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme of South Africa. It is a funding initiative distributing bursaries to South African students for tertiary studies. The scheme is fairly comprehensive, but there are certain degrees that they fund and others that they do not.
What Courses are Covered by NSFAS?
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme, or NSFAS, will help any individual student to pay for tertiary studies at an educational institution in South Africa. NSFAS used to be a loan scheme whereby the students would have to repay the funds once they had secured employment. However, post-2018, the scheme changed from a loan-based scheme to a bursary-based scheme, which means that recipients of the funds do not need to pay it back.
Students can apply for this bursary from August/September in any given year, and applications close in November/December of that year.
There are many courses that are covered by NSFAS, but it is important to understand that only courses at one of the many public universities in South Africa or TVET colleges of South Africa will be covered. NSFAS does have exceptions on some of the courses they’ll fund, but the list of what they do cover is fairly comprehensive.
Students that are interested in enrolling for a course at an online institution will also be able to secure funding through NSFAS if they meet the other requirements.
Funding from NSFAS will cover the following costs for any prospective student: registration at the university or TVET college of their choice, accommodation, whether that be in a university or college residence or private, meals, transport, and even other living costs such as books.
The list of the courses and degrees covered by NSFAS is available on their website, and it includes most undergraduate courses currently available.
Some of the most popular areas of study covered by NSFAS include hospitality and tourism, human resources, information studies, information technology and computer studies, languages, literature, life sciences, marketing, media studies, music, nature conservation, office administration, performing arts, psychology, rural and agrarian studies, schooling, visual arts, communication studies, early childhood development, engineering, film, television and video, finance and economics, and higher education and training.
Can NSFAS Fund a Second Degree?
The short answer is no. NSFAS does not fund postgraduate studies. Students who, therefore, already have a degree will not be able to secure NSFAS funding for further studies.
Do NSFAS Fund Students with Existing Degrees?
Due to the fact that NSFAS funds undergraduate students, it is unlikely that it will fund a student with an existing degree. The NSFAS mission is to enable fair access to tertiary education for poor and previously disadvantaged South African students. If a student, therefore, already has a degree that will ensure employability in the future, it is unlikely that NSFAS will fund a second degree.
Although NSFAS does not fund secondary degrees or postgraduate degrees, they may choose to fund a student looking to obtain a secondary qualification. If a student already has a degree, the best port of call would be to contact NSFAS and apply for another degree to see if they qualify, given that the degree they are applying for is not a postgraduate degree but also an undergraduate degree or course.
Which Degrees Are Not Funded by NSFAS?
NSFAS is wholly focused on providing funding to South African undergraduate students who meet their requirements. However, not all courses and degrees are funded by NSFAS. The most important thing to understand is that NSFAS does not cover any postgraduate studies. But there are other courses of study that NSFAS also does not cover.
Prospective students should know that NSFAS does not offer funding for short courses, courses, or degrees on offer at any private tertiary educational institution or college, part-time studies, secondary degrees, or postgraduate studies.
However, they cover a very comprehensive list of undergraduate degrees and courses at the majority of the public universities and colleges of South Africa.
Will I Be Eligible for NSFAS?
As with any funding scheme, NSFAS has certain requirements that its applicants need to meet before they will secure funding.
The most important requirement of the NSFAS scheme is that applicants need to be South African citizens. They must apply for a course or degree offered by one of the many public universities or colleges, or TVET colleges, in South Africa. NSFAS also has a cap on the combined household income of applicants, and applicants need to be earning less than a certain amount per annum to be eligible.
The Long and Short of It
NSFAS is a comprehensive funding scheme that offers bursaries to students of low-income households in South Africa. They have made it their mission to ensure fair access to tertiary education at some of the most well-renowned universities and colleges in the country.
Although there are some courses and degrees that NSFAS does not cover, the list of what they do cover is very comprehensive and includes the most popular courses and degrees. The most important thing for prospective applicants to know is that NSFAS does not fund postgraduate studies of any kind. However, as long as the course you are applying for is an undergraduate degree, the scheme will most likely cover it.
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