The National Student Financial Aid Scheme is working to make sure the academic year of 2024 gets off to a strong start. One aspect of this is making sure that students who are financed receive all of their allowances on schedule and are not subject to delays that can affect their academic year.
After voicing a number of reservations about the suggested modifications to the way Nsfas will conduct business in 2024, Universities South Africa (USAf) recently requested a meeting with important stakeholders.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) adopted draft policies for the 2024 academic year earlier this year. Blade Nzimande, the minister of higher education, science, and innovation, will be asked to approve them.
If adopted, these proposed regulations will have an influence on students and how bursary monies are handled.
USAf voiced their worries about Nsfas’s proposals to provide students with paid-for banking cards and services (which are now free), oppose proposed financial caps on housing allowances, and envision a scenario in which Nsfas would accredit student housing without the help of institutions.
Important participants, including NSFAS members, the higher education department, various university officials, and the SA Union of Students, attended the meeting called by USAf (SAUS).
USAf emphasized that the goal of the discussion was to develop answers and a shared risk mitigation approach while guaranteeing that institutions can enroll students without experiencing major setbacks.
The paid-for banking cards and services offered by Nsfas were one topic that was discussed. This, according to Nsfas, will enable them to distribute allowances to students directly and not rely on outside service providers. Additionally, the funding plan thinks that this will give students more control over their finances.
USAf stated that they were unsure whether Nsfas was prepared to start using this student allowance payment mechanism. This is because delays in payments caused by students in past years led to numerous delays.
In the first few months of the new year, according to Nsfas, students will get their allowance payments. The plan included R3.5 billion in funding for the distribution of student allowances from February to April 2024.
They added that they would test the direct allowance payment system at three universities. Nsfas will consider requests for exemption from this payment solution from other institutions. Providing they have effective procedures and mechanisms in place for paying out allowances to students, this exception might be made.
USAf expressed opposition to Nsfas’ plan to cap the student housing allowance at R45,000 as well. They caution that in order to guarantee that students have access to acceptable housing while pursuing their degrees, empirical facts should support the cap on student housing allowances.
Given the risks connected with the suggested strategy that have been discovered, Nsfas agreed to reevaluate the timetables in cooperation with the Ministry and Department.
The policy has not yet received the minister’s approval, but Nsfas has released numerous media announcements proclaiming the introduction of the Nsfas Mastercard payment option.