NSFAS Faqs

By | January 20, 2020

Here are some frequently asked questions about the NSFAS application, you may find an answer to a similar question you have on your mind below. Please do your best to go through before you apply.

You can contact us for any assistance. [CLICK HERE]

  • Fee Free Higher Education

  • I wish to study at private institution, can I qualify for the DHET Bursary?

    No, the bursary will be awarded to you if you are registered at a public higher education institution.

  • Do I need to revive my application at the beginning of every year, trimester or semester?

    The financial need of the student will be assessed at the point of first application, and students will not need to re-apply annually.

  • I plan to study for two qualifications at two institutions at the same time, can I be funded for both?

    A student can only be funded for one qualification at one institution at any one time.

  • I have been studying since 2016 for my qualification and funded by NSFAS, do I qualify for the new DHET Bursary if my family earns under 350K?

    The threshold of R350 000 family income per annum only applies to those who were first-time entry (FTEN) students in 2018 and will also apply to those who will be FTENs in 2019 and going forward. Students who entered their studies prior to 2018 qualify for a grant according to the previous threshold of R122 000 family income per annum. The grants for these students from 2018 onwards are subject to a funding cap, as in prior years.

  • I already have already completed a university qualification but would like to enroll for a second one in a different field, would I qualify for the bursary?

    Students who have already studied at a university or obtained a prior university qualification do not qualify as FTEN students even if they are entering the first year of a new programme. Students starting a university qualification for the first time, but who have already achieved a TVET qualification may qualify as a university FTEN student.

  • Does the DHET Bursary fund short courses?

    Approved funded programmes at universities are all undergraduate whole qualifications i.e. degree, diploma or higher certificate programme, offered by a public university. Additional courses that are not core requirements of a whole qualification are not funded. Occasional programmes are not funded.

  • I already have a bursary from another organisation that covers part of my studies, can I apply for the DHET Bursary to cover the rest and use the two bursaries concurrently?

    Students on a full DHET bursary may not receive another full cost of study bursary from another source at the same time. If a student receives a partial bursary from another source, a NSFAS bursary may be awarded, but the allocations must be reduced accordingly, so that the student is supported fully for their studies. NSFAS may not pay for amounts already covered by another funder. Universities are obliged to report this information to NSFAS and to reduce the fee account accordingly.

  • Will a previous NSFAS beneficiary and graduate be accommodated for free funding in 2018/2019?

    NSFAS free funding will only apply to students doing their first undergraduate qualifications.

  • What will happen to loans owed to NSFAS by students who have already graduated?

    NSFAS has not received any commitment by government at this stage to write of any outstanding student debts. The free education pronouncement was clear that it will be effective starting from the 2018 academic year. As far as we are concerned, previous loans will still need to be paid back by those who benefited.

  • How is this money going to be disbursed in terms of university vs TVET students?

    Universities and colleges will receive their allocations once they have given us lists of their registered students. Each institution’s allocation will be determined by the number of their students and their allowances and tuition costs. Once NSFAS is satisfied with these lists, agreement forms for bursary recipients will be disbursed for signing by the students. Once they are signed, NSFAS will have confirmation that the student has acknowledged the funding, and that the student has verified the information as being correct, and that the student is indeed registered and is attending classes. Then NSFAS will disburse funds to the institution. Funds to universities and colleges are released on a quarterly basis. Student allowances are paid out on monthly basis.

  • If a student had previously been rejected by NSFAS due to lack of funds, is it now guaranteed that they will be awarded funding?

    All eligible students who fall within the R350 000 household income bracket, and have been admitted at universities and TVET colleges, will be funded.

  • If a student owes money to the university, will NSFAS help at all with that debt? If so, how?

    NSFAS will only settle student debt from the currently funded year onwards, those who owe universities or colleges and were not funded by NSFAS will settle their debt.

  • What does this mean for GAP-funded students?

    The Department of Higher Education and Training has reached an agreement with universities on fee adjustments for 2018, which will see universities adjusting their fees to a maximum of 8% on the 2017 fees. Students who come from households that earn up to R600 000 per annum, will be supported by government to pay the increase through GAP grant funding. Students who applied for and received GAP grant funding in 2017, will have to apply for the 2018 GAP grant funding through their universities at the time of registrations. This means that university students from families with a household income of up to R600 000 per annum will be paying 2017 prices for their 2018 fees.

  • How is this money disbursed in terms of university vs TVET college students?

    Universities and colleges will receive their allocations once they have given NSFAS a list of their registered students. Each institution’s allocation will be determined by the number of their students, their allowances and tuition costs. Once NSFAS is satisfied with these lists, agreement forms for bursary recipients will be disbursed for signing by the students. Once they are signed, NSFAS will have confirmation that the student has acknowledged the funding and is indeed registered and attending classes. Funds to universities and colleges are released on a quarterly basis. Student allowances are paid out on monthly basis.

  • Does NSFAS consider the cost of living in the area where the University or TVET college is situated when allocating funds to students?

    Allowances are subject to annual increases. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used to determine increases to food and transport allowances. Accommodation and tuition fee increase in line with agreed institutional increases, unless otherwise indicated. For private accommodation, annual increases are capped at the amounts for internal university owned/ managed accommodation. The annual tuition fee increase is not determined by NSFAS.

  • Does NSFAS consider the cost of tuition for each university or TVET college when they allocate funds to each student?

    Funding is allocated as per annual tuition increase. The annual tuition fee increase is not determined by NSFAS.

  • What happens if you fail a few courses or modules?

    To maintain the NSFAS Funding you must meet the academic requirements set by the institution to continue with the qualification and should pass at least 50% of all your modules for that year or semester.

  • How does the 80% attendance rule work at TVET colleges?

    The 80% attendance rule is a policy matter. TVET guidelines were distributed to all colleges with terms and conditions of the NSFAS bursary. The funds that would have been accumulated from the allowances as a result of students failing to comply with the requirement of 80% minimum class attendance must be returned to NSFAS. Students who have failed to comply do not reive any backdates of allowances.

    • 2020 Applications

    • How do I create a myNSFAS account?
      • Log onto www.nsfas.org.za and click on the ‘myNSFAS ACCOUNT’ tab
      • Click on ‘register’
      • Tick on the acceptance option to allow NSFAS to verify and validate the information you provided
      • Type in your ID number as it appears on your ID document
      • Type in your name and surname as they appear on your ID Document
      • Type in your email address and cell phone number
      • Create a username and password
      • Click on ‘register’
      • After clicking register, a One Time Pin (OTP) will be sent to the email address and cell phone number you provided
      • Check your cell phone and email for the OTP
      • Type in the OTP in the tab provided and click submit
      • You will then receive another SMS and email confirming that your myNSFAS account has been created
      • You may now continue with your application

    • I have loaded my ID number or name or surname correctly, but I am unable to continue with my application
      The system validates all information as received from the Department of Home Affairs, ensure that you type in your ID number, name/s and surname exactly as they appear on your ID document obtained from the Department of Home Affairs.
    • What if I don’t have a cellphone?
      To apply online, you will need a functioning cell phone, a valid cell phone number and your own email address. If you don’t have a cell phone, you may use the cell phone number of a trusted guardian or relative, but it is best to have your own cell phone device and number. No two applicants may use the same cell phone number or email address. This information is needed to create a myNSFAS account which you will use to apply for funding.
    • I have a myNSFAS account but don’t remember my username and password, how do I reset my log in details?
      Follow the below steps to reset your myNSFAS account log in details:
      Step 1:
      Go to www.nsfas.org.za click myNSFAS account and click ‘forgot password’
      Step 2:
      Type in your ID number
      Once you have typed in your ID number, you will be required to choose one of the following options:
      • I can’t remember my username
      • I can’t remember my password
      • I can’t remember my username and password
      Choose the relevant option and click submit

      A One Time Pin (OTP) number will be sent to you via SMS and email to the cell phone number and email address you provided Step3:
      Check your cell phone or email for the OTP number
      Step 4:
      Type the OTP number in the provided block and click submit.
      A link to reset your login details will be sent to you via email and SMS
      Step 5:
      Click on the link that you have received through SMS or email and follow the reset process
      Step 6:
      Create a new password by following the instructions on your screen and click submit.
    • How certain is NSFAS that the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will provide the correct information and how long will the process take?
      The verification of your ID number, name and surname is done immediately when creating your myNSFAS account.
    • If my parent/guardian is a taxi driver, what proof of income should I upload?
      Your parent/guardian will be required to submit a letter of employment stating his income.
    • My parent/ guardian is an informal trader selling fruit, what proof of income should I upload?
      Your parent/guardian will be required to submit an affidavit. Your parent/guardian’s income will be verified by 3rd party agencies.
    • I am not receiving the One Time Pin (OTP), how do I access it?
      You can click the option to resend an OTP for another one to be sent to you. If you are struggling to access your emails to receive the OTP, you will need to reset your email details by following the email account directions for resetting of email login details.
    • How do I reset my cell number – in case I lose my phone? Will sim swap work?
      You may complete a sim swap with your cell phone network, once the number is active you may log into your myNSFAS account again.
      If you choose not to do a sim swap, you may update your cell phone number with NSFAS by following these steps:
      • Go to www.nsfas.org.za and click on “myNSFAS account” and follow these steps”:
      • Enter your username and password
      • Click on the “My personal details” tab
      • Enter your current cell phone number and email address
      • Click “Update your details”
      • A One Time Pin (OTP) will be sent to the new number and email address that you have provided
      • Enter the OTP and click submit
      • Your details will immediately be updated
      • You may also watch a video available on the NSFAS website for steps on how to update your cell phone number
      *If the number you provided is already registered with NSFAS, you will receive an error message. Your cell phone number or email address must be uniquely yours and cannot be shared.

    • I no longer remember or use the email and cell number I registered with, how can I retrieve my OTP?
      • Go to www.nsfas.org.za and click on “myNSFAS account”
      • Enter your username and password
      • Click on the “My personal details” tab
      • Enter your current cell phone number and email address
      • Click “Update your details”
      • A One Time Pin (OTP) will be sent to the new cell phone number and email address that you have provided
      • Enter the OTP and click submit
      • Your details will immediately be updated.
    • I only have a cell phone number and no email address; how do I proceed with the application?
      To create an email account is easy and free. Please create an email address through Gmail, Yahoo, Webmail or any other email service provider to ensure you receive relevant communication from NSFAS. Once you have created your myNSFAS profile, a One Time Pin (OTP) will be sent to the email address and cell phone number your supplied in your application.
    • Can I apply for NSFAS if I have already started studying without the NSFAS funding or any other sponsor?
      Yes, you may apply online if you are a South African citizen studying at a public university or TVET college. Please note that if you have been registered and started studying before 2018, your combined household income must not be more than R122 000 per annum for you to qualify. If you were registered in 2018 for the first time, your combined household income must not be more than R350 00 per year.

    • Can I apply for NSFAS if I was funded previously, but I was not funded in 2019 due to not meeting the academic requirements or if I took a gap year?
      No. Once you are approved for NSFAS funding, the funding covers you until you complete your qualification; provided you continue to meet the academic criteria. You just need to focus on studying and passing your modules to secure your continued funding.
    • I was approved for 2019 funding, but never registered for the academic year, do I need to apply again for 2020?
      Yes, to receive 2020 NSFAS funding you will be required to apply. Remember to apply online before November 30, 2019.
    • Can I apply for NSFAS 2020 funding if I am currently funded by NSFAS?
      Yes, you may apply for funding. You will be required to apply online before 30 November 2019. Please note that if you have been registered prior to 2018 your combined household income must not exceed R122 000 per annum. If you were registered in 2018 for the first time your combined household income must not exceed R350 00 per annum.
    • I studied at a TVET college during 2019 but want to proceed and study for a university qualification in 2020, do I need to apply?
      Yes, you will be required to apply for 2020 NSFAS funding online. Click here to apply.
    • I have not received any funding decision for my 2019 funding application, does this mean it has not been approved since NSFAS is now open for 2020 and do I need to apply again?
      Check your application status by logging into your myNSFAS account and track your application. The page will provide you with reasons for your unsuccessful application or advise on what stage your application is. at If the status says you are not approved due to the household income exceeding NSFAS threshold, you will be required to re-apply only if your financial circumstances have changed and your combined household income is not more than R350 000 per annum.>
    • I am an orphan, how/where do I get hold of a social worker?
      You may speak to an educator or principal to direct you to your nearest social worker.
    • I am a parent/guardian, unemployed, was not retrenched, what proof may I submit for the application of my child?
      An affidavit will be accepted; however, your employment status will be verified through government entities and 3rd party agencies.
    • Where is the nearest centre to apply?
    • Does NSFAS fund Postgraduate qualifications?
      No, NSFAS only provides financial support for a first formal university and TVET college exit level qualification. Click here for a list of funded BTech programmes.
    • Who qualifies for NSFAS funding?
      • Any South African citizen (excludes permanent residents and naturalised citizens) who is currently studying or plans on studying at a public university or TVET college.
      • The combined household income of the applicant who has registered at a public institution from 2018or plans to register in 2020 for the first time must not exceed R350 000 per annum
      • The combined household income of an applicant who has registered prior to 2018 must not exceed R122 000 per annum
      • The combined household income of persons with disabilities must not exceeding R600 000 per annum
    • What are the NSFAS bursary academic requirements?
      • Any South African citizen (excludes permanent residents and naturalised citizens) who is currently studying or plans on studying at a public university or You need to have passed Grade 9 to receive NSFAS funding to study at a TVET college and Grade 12 to receive funding to study at a university or TVET college. If you are approved for NSFAS funding, you will be required to meet the academic registration requirements of the university or TVET college before NSFAS allocates any funding to you.
    • Can students with disabilities apply for funding?
      Yes. Students with disabilities are encouraged to apply for financial assistance. NSFAS provides special disability funding to all approved students with disabilities at any of the 26 public universities or 50 TVET colleges. The applicant’s household income must not exceed R600 000 per year.
    • What supporting documents are required when I apply?
      All applicants are required to submit:
      • Certified copy of your ID, not older than 3 months
      • A signed and completed consent form

      If you are dependent on your parents/guardian/spouse, please provide:
      • Certified ID copies of parent/s, guardian, spouse not older than 3 months
      • Proof of income of parent, guardian or spouse (payslip or appointment letter)
      If you are self-sufficient (no parent/guardian support) please provide:
      • Proof of income (payslip or appointment letter)
      • 3yrs IRP5

      If you have a disability, please provide
      • Completed and signed Annexure A (if your information is not pre-populated on the portal)
      If you are an orphan, please provide
      • Completed and signed Declaration Form

      Other documents required, if applicable:
      • Retrenchment letter
      • Death certificate/s
      • Divorce decree

      * Note: If you are a SASSA recipient then no proof of income is required
    • When will application results be communicated?
      Application results will be communicated to all applicants before the start of the academic year via SMS and email to the cell phone numbers or email addresses provided by you when you applied.
    • What happens if you are declined for a NSFAS bursary?
      If an applicant is not satisfied with the results of their applications, they can appeal this decision by filling in the appeal form available on the NSFAS website, which will then be reviewed.
    • Do I need to apply for 2020 funding or each semester and trimester if i am currently approved for funding?
      If you are currently funded by NSFAS, you are not required to reapply.
    • I plan to study for two qualifications at two institutions at the same time, can I be funded for both?
      A student can only be funded for one qualification at one institution at any one time. If the student completed a N6 qualification at a TVET college, he/she may be funded at a University.
    • I have already completed a university qualification but would like to enrol for a second one in a different field, would I qualify for the bursary?
      Students who have already obtained a prior university qualification do not qualify and should not apply for funding. Students who have completed TVET N6 qualifications cannot be funded at a TVET college again but can be funded at University.
    • I don’t need NSFAS funding, but I know a lot of people who need the funding, how can I assist them with applying for NSFAS funding and what would the process be?
      You can help learners, out of school and your community members apply for NSFAS 2020 funding through the following options:
      • Applicants may apply online anywhere and anytime using a computer or cell phone, you can create a WIFI hotspot for applicants to apply
      • You can offer your cell phone, tablet or computer to be used by the applicant to apply
      • You can download the NSFAS 2020 application information brochure available here and share it with applicants in your community
      • You can download the supporting documents required for application such as the NSFAS Consent Form, NSFAS Declaration form for orphaned applicants and the Annexure A for applicants with a disability
      • You can direct an applicant to one of the application centres across the country. Click here to find an application centre near you. • Follow NSFAS on social media and share our content
      i. Facebook: National Student Financial Aid Scheme
      ii. Twitter: @myNSFAS
      iii. Instagram: myNSFAS
      • Host a community outreach event and invite NSFAS to talk about the funding offered and to help applicants apply. Send us information about the event, such as the name of the event, date, address, expected number of attendees, the purpose of the event. Send the details of your event to outreach@nsfas.org.za
    • Allowances

    • Will all allowances be paid in cash, including accommodation allowances?

      All funded student allowances for 2019 will be paid in cash, either directly to the student via NSFAS Wallet or via the institution to the student.

    • Why did the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) decide to stop providing book vouchers and award cash grants for books to each student?

      ALearning Materials’ (Book) allowances only apply at universities and the trend has been to move more towards access to the internet than the purchase of books. NSFAS stopped book vouchers for a number of reasons:

      • Students have been the target of a voucher scam in various campuses;
      • There were many commercial interests by merchants providing services to students at a fee using vouchers;
      • Students were trading the book vouchers for cash outside many supermarkets;
      • The voucher system was limited to selected merchants that monopolised the student market;
      • There was no financial freedom for the students on where to purchase books, including second-hand retailers;
      • The book allowance had increasingly been extended to a learning materials allowance that included laptops and tablets.
      In addition, the call to change book vouchers to cash was one of the many demands by the student leadership in South Africa, as part of their input in the policy governing the higher education student funding

    • Has NSFAS put any mechanisms in place to monitor that the cash grants are used for its designated purpose of purchasing books; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

      NSFAS has no mechanism to monitor students spending of cash allowances. NSFAS believes that students should be treated as adults and have the financial freedom to withdraw the cash voucher and make an informed decision on how to best utilise the funds. The ultimate responsibility is in the hands of the students. In the process NSFAS expects students to grow to be responsible citizens and take charge of their economic freedom.

      The voucher system that has been used by both the NSFAS and some institutions is very limiting in this regard. In addition, as identified above, vouchers were being traded for cash, usually at sizeable discounts. This meant that students received less benefit than the full value of the allowance.

    • How did the R275 monthly allowance initiative come about?

      The introduction of the personal allowance came as a result of numerous engagements with various stakeholders and students on how NSFAS could best assist in issues of personal necessities across universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges (TVET). This allowance will cover some of students’ toiletry and sanitary needs to ensure that they don’t miss classes as a result.

    • Who is set to benefit?

      All NSFAS funded students living in catered residences in addition to their catered accommodation.

    • How much has been budgeted for this allowance?

      NSFAS has set aside more than R2.2 billion, which will be introduced as new allowance to more than 800 000 students.

    • When will students start receiving the allowance?

      This stipend will kick in with other allowances as soon as NSFAS has received registration data from institutions. NSFAS will start paying allowances at the end of January when academic activities resume.

    • Appeals

    • Who may appeal and where?
      You can appeal if:
      * There is a material change in your combined household income (proof of loss of income needed with a fully completed NSFAS form for students that were not previously funded) * Loss of a bursary/sponsor in the 2018 academic year (documented proof should be provided and accompany a fully completed NSFAS application form) * Failure to meet academic criteria where prior academic performance had been satisfactory (provide supporting information and documentation that provides reasons that affected performance)
      * Failure to meet academic criteria due to medical condition (s) or death of an immediate family member (provide supporting information and documentation)
      * You had a gap year in NSFAS funding or failed to register previously and could not reapply for funding.

      Email your appeal form with supporting documents to ApplicationReview@NSFAS.org.za or submit it to your institutions Financial Aid Office.
    • When will students receive feedback on their appeal?
      Students are encouraged to check their funding statuses 7 days after submission of appeal. Funding statuses change as and when an appeal decision has been made. Appeal results are available on the myNSFAS portal. To view the results log your myNSFAS account or register an account on www.nsfas.org.za.
    • What happens if the student’s appeal is approved, but they have missed registration date?
      Student can register, if registration is closed they may use next registration window. * NSFAS has no control over registrations for students awaiting appeals
    • Repayments

    • How do I repay the student loan?

      NSFAS student loans are income-contingent, which means that repayment commences when you start working. NSFAS will send you statements to help you keep track of how much you owe. It is your legal responsibility to keep in touch with NSFAS and to inform us of any change of address and contact details.

    • How are repayments calculated?

      Repayments of your student loan are based on the salary that you earn, and start once your salary is R30 000 or more per year. The repayment amount starts at a calculation of 3% of your annual salary, increasing to a maximum of 8% when your salary reaches R59 300 or more per year. For example, you will repay R900 on a salary of R30 000 a year, or R75 per month. Once your annual salary reaches R59 300 your repayment will be R4 744 a year or R395 a month. You can choose to pay more than this, so that you can pay off your loan off faster, and reduce the amount of interest you will be charged on your loan.

      Interest is charged at 80% of the repo rate, which is the repurchase rate at which the Reserve Bank lends to commercial banks. NSFAS will continue to charge interest on all outstanding balances, making it imperative that you start repaying your loan as soon as possible. The interest rate is set at the beginning of every financial year (April).

    • How do you ensure that students pay back the money?

      Students sign a legally binding loan agreement contract to repay their loans. NSFAS also works with third party organisations (e.g SARS to track down NSFAS beneficiaries who are employed and earning more than R30 000 per year and make payment arrangements.

    • How much do students owe, on average?

      The amount owed varies, as some students might be funded for only one year while others may be funded for their whole qualification. Some students owe R10 000, others owe R150 000.

    • How much of the loan repayment assists in funding other students?

      Every cent of a loan repayment goes towards helping other students with funding.

    • How much time do students have to pay back their loans?

      No time limit is given for repayment, since this is determined by the salary of the debtor, and his or her ability to repay. Those who are unemployed are not expected to repay.

    • What happens if a student loses his/her job while still paying back their loan?

      Those who are unemployed are not expected to repay, but must inform NSFAS whenever their employment status changes.

    • What about students who drop out during their studies?

      Students who drop out are still required to repay their loan when they start earning R30 000 or more a year.

    • When and how is a loan converted into a bursary?

      Different loans have different rules about conversion. Up to a maximum of 40% of a general loan is converted into a bursary when a student passes all of the courses they were registered for in that year. Students who apply at their institution’s Financial Aid Office to be on the NSFAS Final-Year Programme have their final-year loans converted into a 100% bursary if they pass all of their final-year courses and qualify to graduate. If they do not pass all subjects, the conversion applicable to general loans is applied.

    • How do these bursary conversions show on NSFAS repayments?

      The bursary conversion shows as a rebate on your statement when NSFAS receives your academic results from the university. This takes place at the end of the NSFAS financial year in April.

      Your academic results are used to calculate any bursary rebates: for example, 40% of your student loan will be converted into a bursary if you pass all courses; if you pass half of your courses, then 20% of the student loan will be converted into a bursary. If you don’t pass any courses, you will not receive any bursary rebate for that academic year and you will have to repay 100% of your student loan.

    • Is it true that the NSFAS loans of successful third-year university students do not need to be repaid?

      Students in their final year of study, who qualify to graduate if they pass all their courses, are eligible to be funded through the Final-Year Programme, a fund announced by the President in 2011. You may apply to be part of this programme at your institution’s Financial Aid Office. Should a Final-Year Programme student successfully graduate, the loan is converted to a 100% bursary. Students can only benefit from this programme once.

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