Students who have been admitted to tertiary institutions but had not applied for NSFAS funding because they previously did not qualify will be assisted by the Department of Higher Education.
This announcement was made by the department minister, Hlengiwe Mkhize in Hatfield, Tshwane, on Thursday.
“Students who are in possession of firm offers from universities or TVET colleges but did not apply to NSFAS for funding, who qualify for funding according to the revised criteria will be assisted”, Mkhize said.
The minister also said students who did not apply to tertiary institutions during the official application period but were now seeking space would be assisted through its online Central Applications – which will be opened on Friday.
Mkhize emphasised that universities would not be considering any walk-in applications for admission.
At the ANC’s elective conference in December last year, President Jacob Zuma said the government would offer free tertiary education to poor students including those from families with a combined income of up to R300 000.
Previously, NSFAS funded students from families with a maximum combined income of up to R160 000.
Mkhize said the free tertiary education announced last year would be phased in within 5 years starting this year.
“The phasing in of this policy will ensure sustainability of Government financial resources whilst simultaneously ensuring that improved access to post-school education and training for students is guaranteed”, said Mkhize.
In terms of the plan, the NSFAS loans taken by current tertiary institutions students would be converted into bursaries. This is to ensure that current students do not face previous situations where many of them we denied further registration because they owed the previous year’s tuition.
On Thursday Mkhize revealed that the plan included anyone who had previously acquired a matric certificate but, due to lack of funding, could not continue with their tertiary education – with no age restrictions.
“While our focus is on the youth we also believe in life-long learning for everyone”, she said.
Meanwhile, NSFAS chief executive officer Steven Zwane told the media on Thursday the only walk-in applications expected were at TVET colleges – and the funding organisation would be on-site to assist those who qualify to apply for funding.