Challenges Persist for 20,000 Students Awaiting 2023 NSFAS Allowances. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is grappling with the task of disbursing allowances to 20,000 students who are yet to receive their 2023 allowances. Despite efforts to address outstanding payments, challenges persist, leaving many students in a precarious financial situation.
NSFAS Allowance Disbursement Update
NSFAS recently disclosed its plans for the disbursement of outstanding allowances for the 2023 academic year. As of December 5, 2023, 234,124 students received their allowances as part of the reconciled final disbursements. This process aimed to rectify discrepancies in registration data that had hindered the conclusion of allowances for some students.
Three-Part Reconciliation Process
To streamline the disbursement process, NSFAS is dividing the reconciliation of allowances into three parts:
- Direct Payment to Students: Ensuring allowances reach students directly.
- Payments to Institutions: Covering tuition fees directly to institutions.
- Institutional Payments to Students: Facilitating advance payments to students through institutions.
20,000 Students Await Allowances
Despite progress, NSFAS still needs to disburse allowances to 20,000 students. The financial aid scheme attributes this delay to unresolved cases that require additional input and consultation with institutions.
Deadline and Implications
NSFAS aims to complete all outstanding allowances for 2023 by January 15, 2024. This deadline is crucial to avoid impacting the disbursement of 2024 allowances. The NSFAS board is engaging with relevant organizations and stakeholders to brief them on preparations for the 2024 academic year, including eligibility criteria and conditions.
Concerns Regarding Former CEO Relations
Questions about the future of allowance payments arose following revelations of the former NSFAS CEO’s ties to service providers in the direct payment system. NSFAS assures the public that announcements on the implementation of the Werksmans Attorneys report will be made regarding these concerns.
Student Union Criticism
While NSFAS claims to be actively addressing the allowance payment issue, student unions, such as the South African Union of Students (SAUS), dismiss these efforts as mere excuses. SAUS spokesperson Dlanjwa criticizes the explanations provided by NSFAS, deeming them “absolute rubbish” and “nonsense.” Dlanjwa highlights the persistent crises in the payment system and questions the need for monthly beneficiary verifications.
Ongoing Struggle and Engagement
Acknowledging the multifaceted nature of the struggle, Dlanjwa outlines various strategies employed by SAUS, including engagements with the Department of Higher Education and other stakeholders. The unresolved allowance issue underscores the need for a comprehensive and sustainable solution to ensure timely and reliable financial assistance for students.