NSFAS, or National Student Financial Aid Scheme is a government-linked organisation that provides funding for students wishing to study at public universities as well as technical and vocational education and training institutions in South Africa.

The NSFAS provides tertiary institutions with funding for university applicants that need financial support to enter into their studies.

Students who apply and are accepted into the scheme will receive funding from the NSFAS to cover aspects of studies such as tuition fees, accommodation fees, as well as a set budget for purchasing perishable items like food, and a personal care allowance which was added in early 2019.

Unpacking what’s covered by a NSFAS loan:

students researching nsfas funding for south african universities

For national universities:

    • Tuition fees: NSFAS will cover the cost of your course at a university or technical and vocational education and training institution, as long as you meet your academic requirements and pass the modules set out within your coursework.
    • Accommodation: NSFAS will cover the standard cost charge by a university residence & will not cover private accommodation alternatives if they exceed the cost of staying in a university residence.
    • Transport: Travelling to university can be a huge challenge, and the NSFAS provides funding to support travelling up to 40km from a university. This amount is typically R10 000 a year.
    • Students are also allocated a living allowance amounting to R14 400 per annum and a book allowance of R5 000 per annum.

For TVET institutions:

Technical and vocational training institutions are slightly different and incur different allowances for students.

    • Accommodation: In an urban area this amount totals R24 000 a year, in a peri-urban area (locations based between the city center and the outskirts of a central town) the budget is R18 000 per annum and lastly an allowance of R15 000 is allocated for students living in a rural area.
    • Transport is covered, again up to 40km from an institution and the budget amounts to R10 000 per annum.
    • In addition there is a personal care allowance which amounts to the same budget set out for universities, at R2 750 per annum.
    • There is also a personal care budget which amounts to R2 850 p/a for “students in catered residences”.

How do I know if I qualify for NSFAS funding?

students sitting in a circle in a library at a university campus
      • All S.A citizens can apply. 
      • All SASSA grant recipients qualify for funding.
      • If your combined household income is less than R350 000 per annum; and for disabled individuals, a household income can not exceed R600 000 per annum.
      • Lastly, if you started studying before 2018 and you do not have a household income of more than R122 000, then you can also apply. 

Who does not qualify for NSFAS funding?

Apart from the household income brackets described above, foreign students may not apply, as well as students that have completed a previous qualification or students that have already applied, qualified and received funding from NSFAS. 

Which university campuses are affiliated with NSFAS?

stellenbosch university campus with cape winelands in the background

As mentioned, private universities will not be covered by NSFAS and only associated public tertiary institutions are eligible for funding. 

In South Africa a number of universities are affiliated with NSFAS and we’ve chosen to break down the list into provincial categories. 

Please note, you can only be funded for one qualification at a time.

So if you’re really hardworking and plan on studying two courses at once, NSFAS will be unable to fund your tuition or related academic, accommodation or personal care costs.

Western Cape

Universities 

      • University of Cape Town
      • University of the Western Cape
      • Cape Peninsula University of Technology
      • Stellenbosch University

TVET institutions (Technical and Vocational Education Traning)

      • Boland TVET College
      • College of Cape Town
      • False Bay TVET College
      • Northlink TVET College
      • South Cape TVET College 
      • West Coast TVET College

Eastern Cape

Universities 

      • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
      • Rhodes University
      • University of Fort Hare
      • Walter Sisulu University (Buffalo City Campus)
      • Walter Sisulu University (Butterworth Campus)
      • Walter Sisulu University (Mthatha Campus)
      • Walter Sisulu University (Queenstown Campus)

TVET institutions (Technical and Vocational Education and Training)

      • Buffalo City TVET College
      • East Cape Midlands TVET College
      • Ikhala TVET College
      • Ingwe TVET College
      • King Hintsa TVET College
      • King Sabatha Dalindyebo TVET College
      • Lovedale TVET College
      • Port Elizabeth TVET College

Northern Cape

Universities

      • Sol Plaatje University

TVET Institutions (Technical and Vocational Education and Training)

      • Northern Cape Rural TVET College
      • Northern Cape Urban TVET College

Free State

Universities

      • Central University of Technology
      • University of Free State

TVET Institutions (Technical and Vocational Education and Training)

      • Flavius Mareka TVET College
      • Goldfields TVET College
      • Maluti TVET College
      • Motheo TVET College

KwaZulu-Natal

Universities

      • Durban University of Technology
      • Mangosuthu University of Technology
      • University of Kwazulu-Natal
      • University of Zululand

TVET Institutions (Technical and Vocational Education and Training)

      • Coastal KZN TVET College
      • Elangeni TVET College
      • Esayidi TVET College
      • Majuba TVET College
      • Mnambithi TVET College
      • Mthashana TVET College
      • Thekwini TVET College
      • Umfolozi TVET College
      • Umgugundlovu TVET College

North-West

Universities

      • North West University

TVET Institutions (Technical and Vocational Education and Training)

      • Orbit TVET College
      • Taletso TVET College
      • Vuselela TVET College

Gauteng

Universities

      • Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University
      • Tshwane University of Technology
      • University of Johannesburg
      • University of Pretoria
      • University of South Africa
      • University of the Witwatersrand
      • Vaal University of Technology

TVET Institutions (Technical and Vocational Education and Training)

      • Central Johannesburg TVET College
      • Ekurhuleni East TVET College
      • Ekurhuleni West TVET College
      • Sedibeng TVET College
      • South West Gauteng TVET College
      • Tshwane North TVET College
      • Tshwane South TVET College
      • Western College for TVET

Mpumalanga

Universities

      • University of Mpumalanga

TVET Institutions (Technical and Vocational Education and Training)

      • Ehlanzeni TVET College
      • Gert Sibande TVET College
      • Nkangala TVET College

Limpopo

Universities

      • University of Mpumalanga

TVET Institutions (Technical and Vocational Education and Training)

      • Capricorn TVET College
      • Lephalale TVET College
      • Letaba TVET College
      • Mopani South East TVET College
      • Sekhukhune TVET College
      • Vhembe TVET College
      • Waterberg TVET College

How do I apply for NSFAS funding?

prospective student applying to south african university

Do I need to pay back my loan from NSFAS?

Yes, you do.

Unlike repaying a loan from a bank, however, the repayment of loans from NSFAS is tightly regulated and students will not be forced into paying high interest rates on their loan.

Similarly, loan repayments only begin once you have started earning a certain amount for your monthly salary, and if you do really well with your diploma, degree or certification, part of your loan may be converted to a bursary – which means you won’t need to pay as much back to the NSFAS.

How much of my loan could be converted to a bursary if I complete my course with flying colours?

There isn’t a specific amount as this differs between students, results and their courses, but it can be up to a maximum of 40% of your original loan that can be converted to a bursary.

Is NEST partnered with NFSAS and will they pay for my accommodation?

student-accommodation-cape-town-nest

At this current moment, NEST is not partnered with NSFAS and cannot offer students accommodation funded on behalf of the National Financial Student Aid Scheme.

This may be subject to change in the future, and if so, this article will be updated to reflect the partnership and help students apply for NEST using NSFAS funding.

Conclusion

If you’re thinking of studying in South Africa but you’re really struggling to find a way to pay your tuition, accommodation and living expenses for the duration of your course – it would be a great idea to apply to NSFAS to make sure you get started on achieving a higher education certification.

Help yourself out and try to get the best marks you can to reduce your loan amount by the maximum percentage. This will help decrease repayment amounts when you start working, which means you can save money and start building a solid foundation for your future!

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