NSFAS Funding Guide: Navigating Student Finance in South Africa

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is a South African government student support programme that provides financial assistance in the form of bursaries to eligible students to help cover the cost of their tertiary education. The scheme is aimed at disadvantaged students from low to middle-income families who are entering public universities or Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. NSFAS plays a crucial role in facilitating access to higher education and training for students who would otherwise be unable to afford it.

To be considered for NSFAS funding, applicants must meet certain eligibility criteria, which take into account their financial need and academic performance. The application process is conducted online, and students are required to submit the necessary documentation within the specified application period. Those who are awarded NSFAS funding enter into a bursary agreement, which outlines their commitment to completing their studies and the terms of the grant.

Key Takeaways

  • NSFAS is a bursary programme assisting South African students with financial support for higher education.
  • Students must meet eligibility requirements and apply online within the set deadlines to obtain funding.
  • Beneficiaries sign a bursary agreement detailing their responsibilities and the conditions of the grant.

Overview of NSFAS

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is a pivotal initiative in South Africa, dedicated to providing financial assistance to eligible students seeking higher education. In 2024, NSFAS continues to operate under the purview of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, playing a crucial role in broadening access to tertiary education and fostering a skilled workforce.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Applicants must be South African citizens.
  • Financial need is a primary consideration.
  • Must be seeking an undergraduate qualification.

Key Objectives of NSFAS:

  • Financial Support: It offers bursaries and loans to students who are financially needy and academically capable.
  • Science and Innovation: The scheme supports fields linked to science and innovation, reflecting the importance of advancing South Africa’s knowledge economy.
  • Access to Education: NSFAS aligns with government efforts to expand the access to higher education for underprivileged communities.

In 2024, the funding model and eligibility criteria remain geared towards helping students overcome financial barriers. NSFAS plays an instrumental part in creating opportunities for young individuals to gain qualifications, thereby elevating their potential for employment in a competitive job market.


  • Applications are submitted online through the NSFAS portal.
  • Funding covers tuition fees, accommodation, and other necessary resources.

With the sustainable provision of financial aid, NSFAS exemplifies the government’s dedication to enhancing the landscape of higher education in South Africa, investing in the nation’s future by cultivating a generation of well-educated and skilled individuals.

Eligibility Criteria

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) provides financial support to eligible students attending public universities and TVET colleges in South Africa. Understanding the specific eligibility criteria is crucial for applicants to know if they can benefit from this bursary programme.

Citizenship Requirements

To qualify for NSFAS funding, an applicant must be a South African citizen. The individual is required to provide a valid South African ID number as part of the application process, confirming their citizenship status.

Academic Requirements

Beneficiaries must meet certain academic criteria to be considered for funding. Applicants must be either accepted or applying for entry into a public university or TVET college. They are expected to have achieved minimum academic performance standards, as prescribed by NSFAS, to ensure continuation of their funding. For those under the age of 18, academic performance is similarly important for initial NSFAS consideration.

Financial Qualifications

NSFAS financial aid is designed to assist students from households with a gross household income below a certain threshold, aimed to support financially vulnerable applicants. NSFAS assesses the financial need of applicants by examining gross household income, with current limits set to cater for the most financially disadvantaged students, ensuring that the funding reaches those who need it most.

Application Process

The NSFAS application process for the year 2024 is designed to be secure and seamless. Aspirants can apply online and are required to submit specific supporting documentation in order to complete their applications.

Online Applications

Applicants must create a myNSFAS account to initiate the application process. This can be done online by visiting the official NSFAS website. To register, one needs a valid email account and will create a unique password. During this process, a One-Time Pin (OTP) will be sent to the applicant’s mobile number to verify their identity and secure access.

  1. Navigate to https://my.nsfas.org.za/
  2. Click on the ‘Apply’ tab.
  3. Enter your personal information as prompted.
  4. Set a password and await the OTP to secure your account.

Required Documents

Furnishing accurate and up-to-date documents is imperative to ensure the application’s validity. The documentation differs depending on the applicant’s circumstances.

For all applicants:

  • Proof of income: All applicants must provide evidence of their current financial situation.

For applicants with legal guardians:

  • A consent form should be completed by the parent/guardian or legal guardian.
  • If applicable, a vulnerable child declaration form must be submitted.

For applicants with deceased parents:

  • A death certificate for each deceased parent must be included.

For applicants with unemployed parents:

  • An affidavit or a retrenchment letter showcasing the parents’ employment status is required.

For applicants from divorced families:

  • A copy of the divorce decree must be attached.

For applicants with disabilities:

  • The Disability Annexure A form should be thoroughly filled out to provide necessary details concerning the condition.

All documents must be uploaded to the applicant’s myNSFAS account online to ensure that the application is processed. It is crucial that applicants keep their login credentials secure to prevent misuse and safeguard their sensitive information.

NSFAS Funding Provision

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) serves as a pivotal institution in South Africa, providing financial assistance to eligible students attending public universities and TVET colleges. It ensures that financial barriers are removed for students from lower-income households, offering comprehensive aid that encompasses tuition fees, allowances, and additional support for individuals with disabilities.

Tuition Fees

NSFAS guarantees the payment of tuition fees for its beneficiaries, with the goal of affording financial freedom to access higher education. All students from households with a combined income below a specific threshold are eligible for funding, which is directly disbursed to the respective public university or TVET college to cover these costs.


Beneficiaries of NSFAS funding receive allowances meant to aid with various living expenses. This financial assistance typically includes:

  • Book Allowance: For the purchase of academic materials.
  • Meal Allowance: To cover daily sustenance.
  • Transport Allowance: For students who commute.
  • Accommodation Allowance: Particularly for those who live far from their educational institution.

These allowances ensure that students can focus on their studies without the burden of worrying about day-to-day expenses.

Additional Support for Students with Disabilities

NSFAS provides targeted funding and support for students with disabilities, which goes beyond standard provisions. This additional assistance may include:

  • Funding for specialised devices or human support, tailored to the individual’s needs.
  • An increased household income cap for eligibility in recognition of the additional costs associated with disability.

NSFAS thus fosters an environment where persons with disabilities can achieve academic success unhindered by financial constraints.

Important Dates and Deadlines

When applying for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the 2024/2025 academic year, applicants must be aware of the critical dates and deadlines to ensure they submit their applications on time.

Opening Date: The NSFAS application portal becomes available for submissions for the upcoming academic year well in advance. Applicants are encouraged to apply early to avoid last-minute complications.

Closing Date: Applications for NSFAS funding must be submitted no later than 31 January 2024. It is crucial to adhere to this deadline as late submissions may not be considered for funding.

SMS Notifications: NSFAS may communicate important information and updates via SMS. Applicants should ensure their contact details are correct and regularly check for messages to stay informed about their application status.

The following is an outline of the timeline for NSFAS applications:

  • Application Period: Open for submission; check the official NSFAS website for specific opening dates.
  • Deadline: 31 January 2024.

Applicants must prepare and submit the following documents within the application period:

  • Certified copy of the applicant’s ID or Birth Certificate if an ID is not available.
  • Parents/guardians’ and spouse’s certified ID copies, if applicable.
  • Proof of income (e.g., IRP5, payslips, or bank statements from one year).

Adhering to these dates and preparing the required documentation in advance will increase the chance of a successful application. It is the applicant’s responsibility to verify the details and stay updated on any changes via NSFAS official communication channels.

Bursary Terms and Responsibilities

The NSFAS bursary programme obliges beneficiaries to adhere to specific terms and responsibilities, ensuring they understand their commitment when accepting financial assistance. These stipulations are integral to maintaining the integrity and sustainability of the funding scheme.

Repayment Terms

The repayment of NSFAS funds hinges on the beneficiary’s employment status post-education. Once the beneficiary secures employment, repayment commences based on a sliding scale proportionate to the graduate’s salary. No interest accrues on the bursary during the period of study. However, should the beneficiary venture into the workforce, the interest rate applied to the outstanding bursary amount is kept minimal to ease the repayment burden.

Conditions of Funding

Beneficiaries receiving NSFAS support must meet prescribed eligibility criteria and accept various conditions of funding:

  • Education Institutions: Funding is available for students enrolled at public universities or TVET colleges in South Africa.
  • Usage of Funds: Allocated bursaries cover tuition, residence fees where applicable, and student allowances for personal care, accommodation, food, travel, and occasionally learning materials like laptops.

Terms and Conditions: A critical document termed the NSFAS Bursary Agreement outlines the bursary’s terms and conditions. It delineates the expectations on both ends – the NSFAS’s role in providing finance and the student’s responsibilities, such as maintaining satisfactory academic performance and informing NSFAS of any changes to their financial circumstances or academic status. Failure to comply with these terms may result in the cessation of funding and the requirement to repay the bursary amount received.

Communications and Updates

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) endeavours to maintain clear and efficient communication with stakeholders, particularly the beneficiaries of its funding programmes. They utilise various methods to disseminate information and updates regarding their operations and funding applications.

Key Communication Channels:

  • Email Notifications: NSFAS sends regular updates via email. Beneficiaries must ensure their email accounts are active and check them routinely for any correspondence.
  • SMS Alerts: For critical and timely notifications, NSFAS utilises an SMS system. Beneficiaries should keep their cell phone numbers updated in NSFAS records to receive these messages promptly.
  • Official NSFAS Website: The latest news, including statements from the Minister for Higher Education and NSFAS Board updates, are published on their official website.
  • myNSFAS Account: Student funding status and personalised messages are frequently updated on individual myNSFAS accounts, accessible online.

To ensure unimpeded communication, beneficiaries are encouraged to:

  • Maintain their personal contact details, particularly cell phone numbers and email addresses, updated with NSFAS.
  • Regularly log into their myNSFAS account for personalised updates pertaining to their funding status.
  • Monitor the NSFAS website and official communication platforms for public announcements and information releases.

In 2024, the NSFAS has streamlined its communication process, making updates more accessible and reducing complications for students. With the establishment of a Senior Manager for Corporate Communications, NSFAS strives to enhance the clarity and efficiency of its public engagement and information dissemination.

Technical Support Services

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) provides a range of technical support services designed to assist stakeholders in utilising their systems effectively. With a focus on accessibility and user-friendliness, the scheme has developed support channels through various platforms.

Contact Channels:

  • Email: A dedicated support email allows for detailed queries and submissions.
  • Social Media: Responsive support is available on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • WhatsApp: For real-time communication, a WhatsApp number (+27 78 519 8006) is at the disposal of users.
  • USSD: A quick dial code (12067327#) offers instant access to support services.

Mobile App:
NSFAS has incorporated the convenience of mobile technology into its operations. The mobile app ensures that stakeholders can navigate the financial aid process on the go, providing a streamlined service that aligns with modern technological trends.

The NSFAS helpdesk operates a toll-free number (08000 67327), ensuring that every student has the opportunity to receive assistance without the barrier of cost.

System Assistance:
In a scenario where users encounter challenges with NSFAS systems, such as during application processes, step-by-step guidance is readily available. This ensures that applications and enquiries are handled accurately, efficiently, and within the necessary time frames.

The technical support services provided by NSFAS are a testament to the scheme’s commitment to improving its systems and ensuring that the user experience is smooth for all involved stakeholders.

Contacts and Additional Resources

Individuals have multiple contact options for inquiries regarding the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). They can communicate with NSFAS through their Virtual Contact Centre or access various resources for assistance.

Email and Social Media:

  • Email: info@nsfas.org.za
  • Facebook: National Student Financial Aid Scheme
  • Twitter: @myNSFAS
  • Instagram: @myNSFAS

Telephone Numbers:

  • General inquiries: 08000 NSFAS (08000 67327)
  • Application status: 0860 067 327
  • NSFAS Wallet inquiries: 0800 110 132
  • Online assistance: 0800 356 635

Messaging Services:

  • WhatsApp: +27 78 519 8006
  • USSD: *120*67327#

For postal correspondence, NSFAS can be reached at:

  • Postal Address: Private Bag X1, Plumstead, 7801

The Physical Address of NSFAS is:

  • House Vincent, 2nd Floor, 10 Brodie Road, Wynberg, Cape Town, 7700.

The Minister of Higher Education and Training overlooks financial aid policies affecting institutions such as the University of South Africa (UNISA). Students at UNISA or other tertiary institutions who seek funding for their studies can approach NSFAS for financial support, guidance, and resources.

NSFAS is not only a pivotal resource for students requiring financial assistance but also serves as a liaison between the students and the Department of Higher Education and Training, ensuring that qualified individuals can access higher education without financial barriers.

Policies and Regulations

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) operates under strict policies and guidelines, established by the National Credit Act 34 of 2005. NSFAS serves as a credit provider to ensure financial assistance for eligible students, with a particular focus on those coming from economically vulnerable backgrounds.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Prospective beneficiaries must comply with academic requirements set by NSFAS.
  • Financial need is assessed according to specific criteria.

Loan and Bursary Administration:

  • NSFAS provides loans and bursaries, which cover tuition fees, accommodation, and transport costs.
  • Repayments commence once the beneficiary secures employment that exceeds a certain income threshold.

Support for Vulnerable Groups:

  • Special consideration is given to vulnerable children and students with legal guardians, ensuring they have equal opportunities for financial aid.
  • A social worker may be involved to assess and confirm a student’s vulnerability status.

Governance and Management:

  • The Scheme is governed by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act 56 of 1999.
  • Management practices ensure efficient distribution and administration of funds.

Priority Support:

  • NSFAS often prioritises applications from vulnerable children and students under legal guardianship.
  • It facilitates access to higher education, thereby fostering inclusivity and empowerment.

The policies and regulations adopted by NSFAS are designed to ensure a systematic, fair, and effective distribution of financial aid, aligning with its goal to assist financially disadvantaged students in obtaining higher education.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, readers will find specific information addressing common queries related to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) application processes, requirements, and timelines for the academic year 2024.

How can one apply for NSFAS funding online?

To apply for NSFAS funding online, applicants must visit the official NSFAS website and create a myNSFAS account. They should then navigate to the ‘Apply’ tab and complete the online application form by providing the required personal and academic details.

What are the steps to check one’s NSFAS application status?

Applicants can check the status of their NSFAS application by logging into their myNSFAS account. Once logged in, they should click on the ‘Track Funding Progress’ option to view their current application status.

What are the income requirements to qualify for NSFAS support?

To qualify for NSFAS funding, the applicant’s household combined annual income must not exceed R350,000 per annum for undergraduate studies. For persons with disabilities, the combined household income threshold is R600,000 per annum.

When does the NSFAS application period open for the academic year 2024?

The NSFAS application period for the academic year 2024 opens on 28 September 2023. Students are encouraged to check the NSFAS website regularly for any updates and to apply early to avoid last-minute rushes.

How can one check their NSFAS balance and allowances?

Students can check their NSFAS balance and allowances by logging into their myNSFAS account. NSFAS communicates regular updates regarding balances and allowances periodically through SMS or updates within the account portal.

What process should one follow if they’ve forgotten their NSFAS login details?

If someone has forgotten their NSFAS login details, they need to click on the ‘Forgot Password’ link on the myNSFAS login page and follow the instructions to reset their password. They will need to provide their ID number and other requested verification details to regain access.

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