Nearly 90% University Students Onboarded To New NSFAS Payment System


The implementation of a new direct payment system by the National Financial Aid Scheme has caused a lot of tension within the higher education space and has also been at the centre of recent student protests taking place across the country.


In order to make the payment of allowances by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) easier and prevent payment delays, the scheme introduced a new direct payment solution through the NSFAS MasterCard.

However, since its implementation there have already been a number of complaints about the system. Students have said that the onboarding process has been everything but ‘seamless’, with some questioning communication around the new system and why it was introduced at universities in the middle of the academic year.

In response to these concerns, NSFAS released a statement announcing that majority of funded students at universities have been onboarded onto the new direct payment system.

The scheme revealed that almost 90% of students are registered for the NSFAS bank account.

NSFAS noted:

After just two months of implementation at universities, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is proud to announce that 86% of NSFAS-funded university students have been successfully onboarded onto the scheme's new direct payment method.

They added, “This achievement marks a pivotal moment in our ongoing commitment to providing efficient and timely financial support to our beneficiaries.”

NSFAS Allowances Paid To University Students

According to the scheme approximately R608 000 000 has now been paid in NSFAS allowances to a total of almost 358 000 students at universities in South Africa using the new direct payment system.

More than R600 000 000 was paid out to nearly 360 000 university students on 31 July 2023, while over 98 000 TVET College students received over R380 000 000 in student allowances on 25 July 2023.

Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) is the university with the most beneficiaries onboarded to the new payment system, with just over 34 000 students funded by NSFAS they have received around R70 million in total of NSFAS allowances via the new payment method. 

While Rhodes University has the least number of students onboarded (784), who have received R1 300 200 in NSFAS allowances. 

(Source: National Student Financial Aid Scheme)

nsfas allowances

(Source: National Student Financial Aid Scheme)

Furrthermore, the scheme also acknowledges that challenges persist. They noted that around 14% of students are still yet to access the full benefits of their bursary and the new direct payment system.

Here's Why NSFAS Students Are Protesting

Over the past few months students funded by the NSFAS have battled with several issues regarding funding and the distribution of allowances.

Delays in distributing allowances to students as well as the alleged incorrectly defunding of students has forced some institutions to temporarily suspend in-person classes and has led to protect action.

According to the scheme’s spokesperson Slumezi Skosana NSFAS’ decision to commence with a remedial process of defunding students came in response to the funding that they paid more than R5 billion to students who did not meet the eligibility criteria but received funding. 

However, several students claim that many of them have been unfairly defunded by the NSFAS and that they were also against the new online payment system of their allowances.

The students say they were approved by the bursary scheme and had been receiving their monthly NSFAS allowances since the beginning of the year, but payments suddenly stopped in May.

Additionally, there have been concerns and suspicions surrounding the third-party financial service providers recruited for the new payment system. These concerns have prompted an investigation led by the public protector.

To introduce the new payment method, the bursary scheme partnered with four banking service providers to bring the new payment solution to students. These service providers include Tenet Technology, Coinvest Africa, Ezaga Holdings and Norraco Corporation.

The public protectors investigation comes after the Student Representative Council (SRC) at Stellenbosch University has lodged a formal complaint against NSFAS with the office of the Public Protector. The written complaint is calling for an investigation into the newly introduced direct allowance payment system from NSFAS. 

There have also been reports of students being charged exorbitant amounts in bank charges.

NSFAS Working To Address Challenges 

The bursary scheme has affirmed that they are working to address challenges some students have faced in accessing the new system as well as funding statuses.

NSFAS remains resolute in its commitment to seamless accessibility of funds, and we are actively working to resolve any remaining barriers that hinder the disbursement of allowances to these students.

The scheme says they will continue to collaborate and work with universities and TVET college officials, as well as student bodies, to enhance the academic experience of students and still stand firmly in our condemnation of the use of this transition to perpetuate unrelated motives.

“As part of our dedication to transparency and accountability, NSFAS encourages open communication with all stakeholders as we remain committed to addressing concerns, feedback, and suggestions from students, parents, institutions, and the public at large.”

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