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NSFAS changes its funding criteria, again

  • NSFAS has changed its pass criteria for students to receive funding, from a 50 percent average to a 60 percent average.
  • It had lowered the average to 50 percent from 55 percent in 2023.
  • NSFAS has received over 1.5 million applications in a year when it may fund fewer learners than it did in 2023.

In March 2023, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) lowered its pass rate for continued funding of university students to 50 percent. This meant that to receive continued funding after you completed a year, you would need to have received 50 percent or above for your average mark.

On Thursday, NSFAS has once again changed the criteria, elevating the pass rate to receive funding from NSFAS, and is now at 60 percent. Students who do not achieve an average of 60 percent or above will not be eligible to receive funding from the scheme.

The decision was relayed by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande who was briefing the media on the readiness of the department to open the 2024 academic year.

“Continuing and first time entering university students must achieve a course credit pass rate of 60 percent for the end of the 2024 academic year to succeed academically for 2025 funding year,” he said, as per The Sowetan.

“TVET college students must note that a bursary may only be awarded to them when they progress to the next national certificate level if they passed at least five subjects in the previous national certificate level,” the minister added.

Nzimande announced at the briefing that NSFAS has now received 1 545 822 applications for the 2024 academic year, and has provisionally accepted and funded 657 703 students. The total number of applications received already dwarfs the amount received in 2023.

Around this time last year, NSFAS had only received 1 131 419 applications. The influx of applicants comes at a time when both the general bachelor degree pass is higher than usual after the 2023 matric exams, and the Department of Higher Education receiving a smaller budget for 2024 than it did last year.

This could mean that, in general, fewer students could receive NSFAS funding this year compared to the last. This is on top of all the issues the scheme is facing this year, including the termination of its CEO, and the departure of its chairperson, who is taking a leave of absence to deal with corruption allegations.

[Source – SA News]

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