NSFAS provides financial assistance to deserving students who hope to study at a public university or TVET College. This provides more students with the opportunity to access tertiary education in South Africa.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has dispersed over R100 billion to help more than 38 million students from 1991 to 2018. Which is when NSFAS changed from a loan to a bursary scheme.
NSFAS had an R5 billion budget for the 2015/16 financial year. This budget covered approximately 500 000 students that year.
Then in the 2020/2021 financial year, their budget grew to R20 billion. Which helped even more students gain access to tertiary education.
NSFAS currently has a budget of R47 billion which funds about 1.1 million students. At the moment, NSFAS funds 80% of all university students and 90% of all TVET College students in the country.
These numbers show that access to tertiary education is progressing. According to the Director-General of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), 4 000 of those benefiting from the bursary do not meet the threshold.
Dr Nkosinathi Sishi stated that they need to hold NSFAS accountable for making these errors. However, he acknowledged that every young person in the country does deserve access to education.
A Task Force has been assembled to develop a comprehensive funding model which includes missing middle students. The funding model has been presented to the cabinet.
The Task Force is currently in the consultation stage with the cabinet. Thus far 28 proposals have been submitted.