The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is currently administering the second phase of 2017 funding applications for higher education.
Applications for students who wish to study at TVET colleges will opened from 09 January 2017 and will close on 14 February 2017, while applications for students wishing to study at public universities will close on 20 January 2017.
Following an assessment of applications after the closing date, NSFAS took a decision to re-open applications in 2017 to grant another opportunity to learners who did not apply last year, “NSFAS executive management engaged with most of our key stakeholders – the department of higher education and training, department of basic education, department of social development, student leaders, vice-chancellors and college principals, registers and financial aid directors to see what can be done to ensure that those who couldn’t apply are given another opportunity.
The call by these groups of stakeholders to extend the application period was strong” said NSFAS Executive Officer, Msulwa Daca.
NSFAS is also rolling out the sBux voucher programme, a cell phone banking solution introduced to allow individual students to access allowances on their mobile phones, using a security pin and password to access personal accounts. Students who qualify for NSFAS loans or bursaries will receive allowances in the form of cell phone vouchers to pay for food, traveling, books and private accommodation.
While NSFAS pays tuition fees directly to institutions, allowances for these expenses will be directly given to students through their cellphones, so that they can redeem these vouchers at NSFAS-registered merchants who have signed up on the sBux programme.
“Up to this stage, more than 3 334 merchant outlets have signed in on the sBux programme. These merchants include Shoprite, Boxer, Checkers, Spar, and USave outlets, all of which allow students to redeem their sBux vouchers and buy groceries. Students can also purchase books at registered book merchants using the same process,” said Mr Msulwa Daca.
Students who are accepted on sBux will receive an SMS welcoming them, and will be asked to follow the prompts and enter their ID number in order to be verified, following which they will receive a password. Two days later, funds will be available in their personal accounts for usage.
The top ten book suppliers in the country are also registered merchants on the sBux programme. “We will continue looking for ways to improve the disbursement of allowances to students,” said Mr Daca.