The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) revealed that more than 53 000 funding appeals applications have been approved for the 2023 academic year. These appeals were submitted by students whose NSFAS funding applications were initially unsuccessful from NSFAS but succeeded in overturning the rejection decision through their NSFAS appeal process.
According to NSFAS, a total of 53 206 student appeals have been approved for the 2023 academic year. These students are now eligible to access their funding upon their registration at a public university or a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college.
While the number of successful appeal applications exceeds 53 000, at least 6 107 NSFAS appeals have been rejected by NSFAS. The reasoning behind these rejections is either financial or academic ineligibility. These students are not able to lodge any further appeals.
NSFAS also revealed that about 27 791 appeal applications require students to provide supporting documents. These documents will play a crucial role in substantiating the appeal application and ensuring that NSFAS possesses all the necessary information to make an informed decision about whether or not to fund the student.
While NSFAS will consider these appeal applications, it's important to note funding decisions will be based on budget availability. This means that even with a successful appeal, students might not secure funding for the 2023 academic year.
NSFAS Board Chairperson, Ernest Khosa, said:
All appeals are subject to budget availability.
Independent Appeals Tribunal for NSFAS Appeals
The financial aid revealed that they established an Independent Appeals Tribunal to consider appeal applications for the 2023 academic year. This tribunal has been put in place to address complex and specialised appeal cases. It is composed of individuals from the higher education sector, university and TVET college officials, and student leaders.
The primary focus of the tribunal will be centred around cases involving students who have exceeded the N+Rule and applicants from households with income surpassing R350,000, with multiple students pursuing higher education.
Examples of these (special or complex cases) would be applicants who have exceeded the N+ rule, however, only have one or two modules to complete their degrees or applicants belonging to a household of more than R350,000, with more than one student in an institution of higher learning.
NSFAS Tackling Student Accommodation Issues
NSFAS Board Chairperson Ernest Khosa has expressed the organisation's commitment to ensuring suitable accommodation for students during their studies. This follows site visits conducted by NSFAS to evaluate student accommodations funded by the organisation.
During these student accommodation site visits, a range of challenges was identified, including insufficient beds, subpar living conditions, unregulated cost structures and inconsistent accreditation processes
To address these concerns, NSFAS has introduced an online student accommodation portal. Accommodation providers can register their properties on this platform, with 38 accreditors appointed to evaluate and rate these properties.
As of now, a total of 41 245 beds have been registered, with 24 784 being accredited. The portal is currently being piloted in 18 TVET colleges, with plans to expand its reach to all institutions after a thorough evaluation.
NSFAS To Re-evaluate R45,000 Accommodation Cap
In 2023, NSFAS implemented a cap of R45,000 on accommodation allowances to curb unregulated costs associated with student housing. This introduction of the cap also sought to prevent profiteering and price collusion among private accommodation providers.
This caused concern among students who believe that the allocated amount for accommodation might not suffice, leaving them to cover the cost of accommodation, find alternative accommodation or pack their bags and return home.
Khosa revealed that institutions adversely impacted by the R45,000 accommodation cap have been encouraged to negotiate with private accommodation providers to adjust rental rates.
NSFAS remains dedicated to adapting its funding policies to accommodate the evolving circumstances of students' academic journeys. A task force, spearheaded by the Department of Higher Education and Training, is presently reviewing the R45,000 cap.