Undergraduate Bursaries & Loans
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NSFAS FAQs


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What is the NSFAS DHET Bursary Scheme?


The role of the organisation is to provide financial aid to eligible students from poor and working-class families who would otherwise not be able to afford to study at South African TVET colleges and public universities. NSFAS assesses students for funding eligibility and ensures that qualifying students who are registered at public universities and colleges receive funding to support their studies, in line with policy, and in partnership with institutions. 

NSFAS is also responsible for collecting student loan payments on loans provided before 2018, in order to replenish the available funds for future generations of students. In addition to the main bursary scheme for poor and working-class students, NSFAS also manage a number of other government bursaries including the Funza Lushaka Bursary for teachers. NSFAS manages a significant budget on behalf of government.

What is a first time entrant (FTEN) into the university system?


An FTEN is a person who has never been registered at any university in the system before, and is entering the university at an undergraduate level for the first time and for their first undergraduate qualification.
This person may have studied at a TVET college and been supported for that qualification before.
There is no age restriction on being an FTEN student. Anyone with the required academic background who is admitted to study in a public higher education institution and meets the criteria for financial assistance will receive funding.


Who will be eligible for funding through the Bursary Scheme?


From 2018 onwards, prospective South African FTEN university students who have received a firm offer of a space at, or confirmation of admission into, a public higher education institution and who meet the criteria for financial assistance as coming from a “poor and working class” family, will be eligible for funding.

Prospective students must be South African citizens to be eligible.

“Poor and working class” means that the prospective student comes from a family with a gross household income of up to R350 000 per annum.


What will be covered by the bursary?


All eligible students will be provided with a bursary that covers the actual cost of their tuition, plus a NSFAS determined allowance for prescribed learning materials.
The actual cost of tuition means the tuition fee for the specific programme that the student is registered for at an institution; these tuition fees differ depending on the field of study (e.g. engineering, medicine, art, history, etc.) and the institution attended.


What is meant by ‘subsidised accredited accommodation and travel and/or subsistence’?


DHET bursary students may be eligible for subsidised accredited accommodation and living costs including meals.
If a student is eligible, this will be awarded as part of the bursary.
Subsidised accredited accommodation and subsistence refers to the following: government provides the cost of accredited accommodation, meals and basic living requirements capped at a specific amount for those who require it based on the policy implemented at an institutional level.
Accommodation will be capped at defined institutional accommodation rates. Where meals are not included in the cost of accommodation, a separate standard allowance (determined by NSFAS) will be made available to cover food and basic necessities required to support the students’ studies. Accredited accommodation will be provided in terms of the university housing policy.


What are the conditions attached to accepting a bursary?


If a prospective student qualifies for a bursary, they will have to sign a contract with binding conditions.

Accepting DHET bursary funding will not require a beneficiary to pay back the funds in monetary terms. However, it does require that the beneficiary meets and maintains certain academic conditions/criteria.
Any graduate funded through the DHET Bursary scheme who wishes to emigrate to live in another country will be required to pay back the funds before they leave the country.