The Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) recently opened applications for its new bursary cycle. The programme is aimed at providing financial relief to students, and is often compared to NSFAS.
Despite the many comparisons, the ISFAP bursary is different to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Sifanele Biyela, Regional Project Manager at ISFAP, explained the difference between the two in an interview on the Careers Portal Youtube channel.
Biyela said NSFAS is a government financial aid scheme, while ISFAP is a donor-funded foundation. The funding criteria is also different, as NSFAS provides funding to poor students while ISFAP caters to poor and missing middle students.
Unlike NSFAS, which has a maximum household income of R350 000, ISFAP has a maximum household income of R600 000. This difference in maximum household income caters to ISFAP's target market of missing middle students.
"Missing middle students would be students that are currently not poor enough to qualify for NSFAS funding but also cannot afford tertiary fees. Those would be families that fall within R350 000 per annum to R600 000 per annum household incomes. Students whose household incomes fall between there are called missing middle because with the financial scheme that the country currently had, they did not qualify for funding." Biyela explained.
While ISFAP aims to provide funding to students, there are some controls that are put in place to regulate the application process.
This is done by ensuring that students are not funded by both NSFAS and ISFAP. Successful applicants can only be funded by either of the bursaries, but not both at the same time.
"The aim is to try and reach as many students as possible, and afford opportunities to as many students as possible. If we have instances where students are double-dipping, which is when a student has more than one funder, it then narrows the reach of the different programmes to students that could also use the opportunity of getting financial support" Biyela added.