How NSFAS Works For Returning Students

Returning students interested in continuing their studies are welcome to apply for the bursary. However, these students need to know a few things before applying for NSFAS.



The National Student Aid Scheme (NSFAS) aims to assist students with accessing tertiary education at any of the 50 TVET colleges or 26 public universities. Students who studied previously without NSFAS funding are also welcome to apply.

Following the #FeesMustFall campaign, NSFAS changed the bursary criteria. Now students need to meet the following requirements to be eligible for funding:

  • South African citizen or permanent resident.
  • All SASSA grant recipients are eligible.
  • Applicants whose combined household income is no more than R350 000 per year.
  • Persons with a disability should have a combined household income of R600 000 or less per year.

Returning students who began studying before 2018 will be considered for the bursary if they meet the pre-2018 NSFAS academic and financial eligibility criteria.

Their combined household income threshold will be assessed in terms of the 2017 NSFAS DHET general fund requirements, i.e. up to R122 000 per year.

Allowances provided for accommodation, transport, learning materials and living expenses should align with the approved latest DHET guidelines.

Students at public universities and TVET colleges receive similar allowances, but different amounts to cater to their tertiary institution costs.

University students

  • Accommodation: As per the actual costs charged by the university (costs for private accommodation must not exceed costs for university residence).
  • Transport (up to 40 km from the institution): R7 500 per year.
  • Living allowance: R15, 000 per year.
  • Book allowance: R5200 per year.
  • Incidental/personal care allowance: R2900 per year for students in catered accommodation.

TVET College students

  • Accommodation in an urban area: R24,000 per annum
  • Accommodation in a peri-urban area: R18,900 per annum
  • Accommodation in a rural area: R15,750 per annum
  • Transport (up to 40 km from the institution): R7,350  per annum
  • Transport: R7000 per annum
  • Incidental/personal care allowance: R2900 per annum

Even students in their second year of studying will need to apply for NSFAS as long as they do not have any other form of funding.

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