Is NSFAS A Bursary Or Loan?


When applying to tertiary institutions, there is always a concern about how you will pay the tuition. This is when you may come across NSFAS, though there is still some confusion over whether or not NSFAS is a bursary or a loan. 

NSFAS Student Funding Application Information

NSFAS, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, is a government program in South Africa that provides loans and bursaries to financially disadvantaged students. It offers funding for tuition fees, registration, accommodation, transportation, and books, aiming to support students from poor and working-class backgrounds.

To qualify for NSFAS, one of the key requirements is that the total household income should not exceed R350,000 per year. This includes the combined income of all individuals living in the household. If the total income exceeds this threshold, the applicant would not be eligible for NSFAS funding.

Students and prospective students typically apply for NSFAS bursaries online through the myNSFAS portal. This online application process allows individuals to submit their requests for financial assistance.

For comprehensive information about NSFAS, including application procedures and details about allowances, the Bursaries Portal serves as a useful resource. It provides a comprehensive guide to NSFAS, assisting individuals in understanding the scheme, completing applications, and accessing NSFAS allowances.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is a government entity that falls under the Department of Higher Education and Training. NSFAS offers financial support to students who do not have the means to pay for their studies at tertiary institutions (public universities or TVET colleges).

NSFAS operated as a loan until December 2017 and since 2018, NSFAS has been a bursary scheme. 

In 2024, NSFAS missing middle student loans was launched as part of the Comprehensive Funding Model in January by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. These loans are available to students who do not qualify for NSFAS bursaries and have a household income between R350,000 and R600,000. 

So the answer is, NSFAS offers Bursaries and Student Loans.

If any of the following applies to you then you qualify for this bursary:

  • South African citizen
  • SASSA grant recipients qualify for funding
  • Applicants whose combined household income is not more than R350 000 per annum
  • A person with a disability: Combined household income must not be more than R600 000 per annum
  • Students who started studying before 2018 whose household income is not more than R122 000 per annum.

If you apply for a loan, the procedure is similar to that for a bursary application. You will be required to accept terms and conditions that are aligned to a bursary application. Please accept these terms and conditions with the understanding that the similar agreements will be shared with if you qualify for a loan agreement.

Applicants who have been rejected for a NSFAS bursary based on a household income exceeding R350 000, will pre-qualify for a loan if their family income is less than R600,000. We will communicate with such applicants in due course.

Students who already applied for the NSFAS bursary scheme need not to submit a new application for the student loan scheme.

You are welcome to apply for funding to any public universities or TVET colleges.

For more information on NSFAS, click here.