Major change for how NSFAS will pay its TVET students from June

  • NSFAS will now pay beneficiaries at TVET colleges their funds directly to their personal bank accounts.
  • If you do not have a bank account, you will have to open one to receive your allowance.
  • NSFAS is now paying students directly to their accounts, through universities and through the direct payment system.

Amid the dissolution of the NSFAS board of directors and the appointment of a hand-picked administrator by the Department of Higher Education, a new method to pay students their monthly stipends has been established.

The new payment method will see NSFAS pay beneficiaries at technological vocational education and training (TVET) colleges their stipends directly into their personal bank accounts.

According to a statement from NSFAS, this new method will only affect NSFAS beneficiaries that attend TVETs, and not university students, and will only come into effect at the end of May, so from June onwards.

This method was devised following a meeting between the newly appointed NSFAS administrator Freeman Nomvalo and the South African Technical Vocational Education and Training Student Association (SATVETSA) near the end of April.

At this meeting, the student association said they had “serious concerns” about the current way NSFAS is disbursing payments to students, or not disbursing. From the beginning of 2024, the academic year has been disastrous for NSFAS, which has gone from bad to worse.

At the end of 2023, it said it would discontinue the direct payment system with the firing of its four payment partners. It failed to do so. The disbursal of funds was then split between the direct payment partners and directly from universities, and this has so far been the method of payment.

However, this disorganisation has led to missed payments for students, as well as easily avoidable clerical issues such as when a simple error caused NSFAS beneficiaries at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to be paid well under their monthly allowances for the first three months of the year.

I’m a NSFAS beneficiary at a TVET and I don’t have a bank account

Unfortunately, if you are a beneficiary who attends a TVET college and doesn’t have a bank account, you will have to simply open one.

“All TVET students who do not have bank accounts are encouraged to open bank accounts with banks of their own choice,” NSFAS says in a statement.

“The scheme will communicate to all NSFAS beneficiaries requesting them to update their details to enable the smooth implementation of this direct payment mechanism,” it adds.

NSFAS spent R5 billion (taxpayer money) in 2023 to hire four companies to create digital bank accounts for beneficiaries, and now it is telling beneficiaries that they must just open normal commercial bank accounts to be paid directly from the scheme’s coffers because the previous method failed. This is R5 billion squandered.

The scheme has also failed to indicate how it will reimburse students who must now pay out of their own pockets for the opening of these accounts.

As for university students, they will continue to be paid via their universities directly, with NSFAS adding that “students who were paid on the direct payment platform until April should continue to use those funds.”

At least two of the payment partners confirmed to Hypertext that they would be continuing to pay students directly throughout April. These were Tenetech and eZaga.

“The NSFAS Administrator assures all NSFAS-funded students that the scheme in arriving at any decision, it will put the interest of students first,” the scheme says. Nomvalo has until the middle of 2025 to fix NSFAS, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, indicated at the time.


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