Types of Funding Available for Students

There are various forms of funding for people who wish to study at a higher education institution but need financial assistance to do so. If you are struggling to find a way to fund your studies, here are some options you may wish to consider.

There are many different types of funding for higher education in South Africa for students who require financial assistance. These include scholarships, fellowships, bursaries and student loans.

These are the types of higher education funding options that you may come across:


Scholarships are financial sponsorships that are awarded to students who excel academically or in a sport. They can either cover the student’s full tuition fees or a portion of them.

When receiving or applying for scholarships, there are specific requirements you will have to meet, like maintaining a certain academic average or taking part in a particular sport or cultural activity.

The advantage of a scholarship is that the student does not need to pay it back unless they fail to meet the requirements throughout their studies.

Visit the opportunities section on our website to find out more about any available scholarships.

Student loans

A student loan or study loan is when a student borrows money from an institution or a bank to cover their fees. Student loans typically need to be paid back once they find employment.,

Different banks and different loans will have different interest rates. It is important to know how the loan you intend to choose charges interest. Some institutions have a huge interest mark up in comparison to others.

You can apply for a student loan from banks such as Nedbank, FNB, Standard Bank and many others.

It is important to note that when applying for a study loan, you should make sure that the institution is registered to provide this loan to avoid future complications.

You will also have to apply and meet certain requirements to qualify for a student loan.

Government and Private Company Bursaries

Government and private company bursaries are academic sponsorships that are provided to academically eligible students or students who require funding for their tertiary education.

This kind of funding usually covers the full cost of study including study material, tuition fees, accommodation and sometimes pocket money for living expenses. In some cases, students are meant to pay the bursary back by providing service to the company or institution. If the student has to retake a module, they likely have to fund that module themselves.

Private companies usually award bursaries to students in fields of learning that will be useful to the company and are likely to employ the student after their studies are complete as a way for the student to pay them back.

Government bursaries have a similar method but this only applies to jobs or services that the government provides, like teachers or certain types of lawyers.


A fellowship is a merit-based scholarship for advanced study of an academic subject given to subsidise the cost of education.

Fellowships are usually scholarships for people who have already earned their college degree and who are pursuing additional education. Like jobs that require PhDs or other postgraduate qualifications.

Similar to bursaries, fellowship students need to repay the costs by offering the company or institution a service in the field of their studies.

You can visit our opportunities section to find out more about any fellowships that may be available.


The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is the largest bursary scheme in South Africa. They offer a bursary that gives students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds a chance to study at a tertiary institution by providing them with financial assistance. The NSFAS bursary is awarded to students who come from households with a combined annual income of below R350 000.

Aside from financial need, there are a number of other requirements students need to meet to be funded by NSFAS. While completing their higher education, the student will also need to obtain a certain academic average to continue to receive funding.

The bursary covers the full cost of study including study material, tuition fees, student accommodation and sometimes pocket money to cover other student expenses.

The NSFAS bursary does not need to be paid back by the student after having completed their studies.


Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) is a Support and Funding model for financially needy students that fall under the categories of “poor” and “missing middle” students.

These financially needy students are in a position where they do not qualify for NSFAS but are not able to fund their studies themselves. The bursary is for students with a household income between R350 000 and R600 000 per annum.

The bursary covers the full costs of study including study material, tuition fees, accommodation and sometimes pocket money for living expenses.


Feenix is a student programme that uses the process of crowdfunding to help students fund their tertiary education. They assist students with avoiding debt that they will ultimately be left with once they have completed their studies.

Feenix is always open to donations and collaborations to help fund the students of South Africa. If you wish to donate, you can visit their website


Fundi is a South African Education Finance specialist. They strive to help students achieve a tertiary qualification, by covering the costs of attending higher education institutions through educational loans.

They cover study loans, short courses, accommodation loans, executive loans, MBA funding, study device loans and educational tools.

There are a number of requirements you will need to meet to apply and qualify for funding from Fundi.

If you require assistance with choosing a financial aid option, you can always visit your college or university’s financial aid office.

All these options help students pay for their higher education by providing them with financial assistance. It is best to consider all the options available before deciding which one may be best for you.

You will also need to consider whether or not these options cover public universities, private universities and TVET colleges, as well as the expenses involved in student accommodation.

Carefully weigh up all your options by considering the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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