Department of Higher Education and Training
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is facing a shortfall on its funding for 2021.
The higher education, science and technology minister, Blade Nzimande, confirmed this in an update on funding decisions for 2021 prospective students.
The minister added that the shortfall means that the NSFAS has been “unable to confirm funding for new university students”.
One of the reasons for the shortfall is the extended 2020 academic year caused by Covid-19 for which additional money had not been allocated.
“We had to continue to pay NSFAS allowances even at the time when universities were closed, as part of students’ access to multimodal teaching and learning”, he said.
Other reasons are budget cuts across government departments and an increase in qualifying NSFAS applicants due to the deteriorating economic situation.
However, the minister declared that NSFAS is going to be “funding all returning NSFAS beneficiaries students who meet the academic and other relevant criteria for continuing their studies”.
“In this regard, the usual processes apply, whereby institutions share the relevant registration data and information with NSFAS, which is then able to confirm the funded lists of students with Institutions,” he said.
The minister confirmed that the higher education and training department is working with national treasury to identify policy and funding options to be presented to cabinet this week for consideration.