The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has anticipated a high volume in applications near its closing date because of the recent “economic suffocation” of the pandemic.
It said it has received more than 160 536 applications since August 3. Administrator Randall Carolissen said on average, NSFAS has been receiving more than 5 000 applications a day.
Applications are open for Grade 9-12 pupils and out-of-school youth who wish to further their studies at technical and vocational education and training colleges or universities across the country.
He said prospective applicants were urged to apply before November 30. Applications are submitted online via a smartphone, PC, or by utilising applications centres of NSFAS partners.
“NSFAS has strengthened its partnership with the Department of Basic Education to further increase NSFAS’s footprint and reachability.”
He said the department would link NSFAS with provincial and district offices and provide a database of national teachers centres which would assist with applications.
SA Students Congress spokesperson Luvuyo Barnes said NSFAS should widen its range of individuals for funding, as well as look into policy deviation due to the pandemic.
SA Union of Students spokesperson Thabo Shingange said NSFAS had failed to act as a vehicle for working class students to access higher education. Shingange said the institution had been reduced into a loan scheme with no plans to utilise it to implement free, quality education to deserving students.
“Instead it has been embroiled in scandals, including the disbursement of R14 million to one student who has since been characterised as a criminal, while the people who transferred the funds are running scot-free,” he said.