NSFAS received a total of 161 938 applications for 2017. Out of these applications, 105 135 were approved for new students and another 204 653 were approved for returning students. “Given the completion of some 2016 academic year examinations in January 2017 [at] certain universities, there are also more qualifying students whose results are being evaluated which will also increase the numbers of funded university students. We expect to add more than 100 000 students to the already 309 788 students already funded,” said Nxasana. 53 043 applications were unsuccessful and 3 760 applications are still being evaluated. “We have also communicated with these unsuccessful applicants and have announced an appeals process available to them. Unsuccessful students can lodge an appeal by downloading an application form on the NSFAS website, filling it in, and emailing it – together with their recommendations – to this email address: appeals@nsfas.org.za,” Nxasana added. The deadline for appeals was 28 February 2017.

Students who were funded by NSFAS in 2016 will automatically be funded in 2017, provided they have passed at least 50% of their modules and have signed their loan agreement forms from last year.

Nxasana also commented on the issue of accommodation for NSFAS-funded students. “The universities and TVET colleges are tasked with accrediting the private accommodation providers and only then [will] NSFAS register these private accommodation providers as merchants for the universities and TVET colleges already on the sBux disbursement system. For universities and TVET colleges not on the sBux system, NSFAS pays the universities and TVET colleges who then settle with providers of private accommodation,” he explained.

“It’s important to note that NSFAS does not make decisions on which students qualify for private accommodation allowances. Additionally, NSFAS does not have any relationship with private accommodation providers and we are not involved in any accreditation process,” he clarified.

Nxasana recognised that the NSFAS system did not perform sufficiently enough and apologised to all students who suffered any inconvenience.