What you should have learned in school: how to deal with NSFAS

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Every week, Perdeby takes a look at something you should have learned at school to assist you in day-to-day life. This week, we take a look at how to deal with student funds – specifically NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme).

NSFAS’s website provides you with a wealth of knowledge but some of it can be a bit overwhelming. Perdeby has identified key information, but for additional details visit their website at www.nsfas.org.za

NSFAS provides financial support to members of poor or working class families in order to further their education. You can apply for either a bursary or a financial loan to study at a public institution. NSFAS has a range of bursaries available. What makes a bursary different to a financial loan is the way in which it is payed back. Instead of repaying the monetary value of your student funds, you return it by means of a contract to work in a specific sector in South Africa for a specified amount of time after graduation. Some of the bursaries that the NSFAS provide include Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme, bursaries for studying Social Work, and the Disability Bursary Programme.

Application requirements
NSFAS has various application requirements. As the financial aid is a grant from the department of higher education, the applicants must be financially needy. An applicant will be considered if their annual household income is less that R122 000. Applicants also need to perform academically. At a TVET, a 70% average is required, and at a university 50% is required. Other basic requirements for a NSFAS bursary includes: being a South African citizen and complying with the entry requirements and having a proof of registration or an acceptance letter from the chosen university. The success of your application will then be determined and communicated to you.

How to apply
If you are applying as a new student, you will have to know what you want to study and where you want to study it. You will then need to prepare all the necessary documentation. You will need a certified copy of your ID book or card (or a copy of your unabridged birth certificate), and a certified copy of your parents’ or guardians’ ID books or cards (or death certificates where necessary). You will also need a certified copy of the ID book or card of each person living in your home, pay advice, letter of employment, or pension advice (not older than three months) and the consent form (available on the website). If you have a disability, you need to fill out the disability annexure A (also available on the website). To apply online, go to ‘how to apply’ on the website and follow the simple steps. You need to create a profile, filling out all of your personal information and then proceed to the “apply” tab. NSFAS recommends that you apply online. If you absolutely cannot, you can submit your application at the nearest National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) offices or Local Youth Offices (LYO). The Tshwane branch is on Stanza Bopape street. You need to have all the same documentation as required for the online application. At the NYDA or LYO branch, you will be able to fill out the forms. The closing date for applications for 2018 is 30 November 2017.

Loan repayments
Repayments are “income-contingent”, meaning that you only start repaying the loan when you start working and receive an income of more than R30 000 a year. You will be sent statements of what you owe on a regular basis by NSFAS. You will start by paying 3% of your annual salary back until you earn R59 300, where after you will pay a maximum of 8% of your yearly salary. You can, however, pay back larger amounts to repay the loan faster and receive less interest. Interest is 80% of the repo rate, and interest is charged on all overdue payments. The interest rate is set on 1 April annually, and remains unchanged for the whole year. There is no time limit given for repayment. Students who pass all their subjects will get 40% of their NSFAS funding for that year converted into a bursary. This means that when they start working, they will only have to pay back 60%. You can pay via EFT, debit order, or salary deduction.

Written by: Aroma Theron
Originally published: www.perdeby.co.za/online-content/5699-how-to-deal-with-nsfas