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NSFAS clarifies the proposed funding eligibility criteria

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has clarified its proposed funding guidelines after a public outcry regarding a misunderstood 75% pass mark requirement to qualify for funding. 

According to a NSFAS statement, students, except for those entering higher education for the first time, need to pass 75% of their modules to continue receiving funding.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has recently come under scathing criticism after media publications reported the bursary scheme proposed a 75% pass rate as an eligibility requirement for tertiary students who seek funding for their studies.

“This requirement will become effective as of the 2023 academic year. This means that continuing students who are not first-time entering students in 2022 must achieve a 75% course pass rate for their 2022 studies to qualify as eligible continuing students. Students who fail to meet this requirement will be allowed to appeal and subject to the appeal criteria as specified in this policy standard,” the statement said.

NSFAS recently issued a response to address the circulating media reports about its proposed academic eligibility criteria, which initially drew criticism from various student bodies throughout the country.

This follows a meeting between NSFAS and the South African Union of Students on Monday, during which NSFAS presented its proposed funding guidelines for the 2022 academic year.

In response, NSFAS issued a statement in which it said that media publications published misleading reports concerning its academic eligibility criteria policy.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) takes note of the article in the Sowetan of November 17 2021. which has resulted in other media queries to NSFAS. Note that the headline is factually misleading. 

NSFAS further stated that the proposed policy is meant to encourage students to pass their courses or modules and not the pass mark as per the article. 

Additionally, if implemented, the proposed policy would only come into effect in 2023 and would not be applied to students who entered higher education for the first time.

Furthermore, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme added that it is currently holding stakeholder consultations regarding the proposal and that things have not been concluded.

All stakeholders are given an opportunity to make inputs and the process is ongoing. All inputs will be considered, and recommendations will be made to the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation 

The South African Students Congress (SASCO) was among the student bodies that are opposed to the proposed academic eligibility criteria by NSFAS.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the student body said that NSFAS ignored the plight of the majority of students who rely on the bursary scheme for financial assistance.

The student organization further stated that, by allowing the implementation the proposed academic eligibility policy, NSFAS would be engaging in the systematic exclusion of children from poor working-class families from higher education.

We are convinced that NSFAS Policy and guidelines must be in sync with the Exclusion pass rate of all Institutions of Higher Learning which is 55%, we can’t have NSFAS policy that exists outside that consideration as it will create unnecessary confusion. 

The EFF Student Command also labelled the NSFAS proposed guidelines as ‘anti poor’ adding that it will have negative consequences for students throughout the country

“The proposed and revised N+ rule will have many students rejected from access to funding and consequently contribute to a higher dropout and unemployment rate.”

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