Following the recent protests against the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and its new payment method, the University of South Africa (Unisa) has released a statement to inform students about the ongoing processes. Unisa students have been significantly affected by delays in NSFAS allowances, leading to widespread discontent.Check NSFAS Application Status 2023-2024
New Payment System Causes Concerns The introduction of a new payment system by NSFAS has triggered protests at various public higher education institutions. Students have raised issues regarding the system, as it has resulted in payment delays and exorbitant bank charges, compounding the financial difficulties they already face.
Challenges Faced by Students Since the implementation of the new payment system, thousands of students have experienced delays in receiving their monthly NSFAS allowances. Furthermore, they are being burdened with substantial bank charges whenever they make withdrawals, depleting their already insufficient funds. In some cases, students have been immediately defunded, exacerbating their financial hardships.
These bank charges increase when students exceed their limits for swipes and withdrawals, with approximately 15% of students’ allowances currently going towards these fees. While the charges are imposed by service providers and not directly by NSFAS, there is a growing sentiment that NSFAS should bear these costs rather than burdening disadvantaged students further.
Additionally, July allowances were expected to be disbursed on the first of the month. However, nearly two weeks later, it is alleged that just under 70% of students receiving NSFAS funding have yet to receive their payments.
NSFAS Introduces New System for Accountability NSFAS implemented the new payment system to enhance accountability regarding student allowances and establish a seamless transfer process for funds to students. Previously, NSFAS would provide funds to institutions, which would then distribute them to students.
Unisa’s Response In response to the protests and challenges associated with the new system, the University of South Africa (Unisa) has issued a statement. Unisa is currently engaged in discussions with NSFAS, universities, and other relevant stakeholders to find a resolution.
Unisa, in collaboration with Coinvest, the service provider used by the university, and student leadership, is working with NSFAS to address the situation and ensure that students are not unfairly disadvantaged. Unisa has acknowledged the difficulties faced by students and is actively exploring interventions to alleviate the issues.
The university has urged its students to complete the onboarding process through the NSFAS website to gain access to their allowances.
NSFAS’ Action Plan NSFAS has acknowledged the situation and has committed to investigating the students’ allegations. If the claims are substantiated, appropriate action will be taken. They have also announced the following measures:
- Instructing service providers to increase their physical presence at tertiary institutions to facilitate direct response to students.
- Providing instructions to students on how to access their funds immediately and without delays.
- Facilitating a three-way meeting between student leaders, NSFAS management, and service providers to address the underlying issues.
Dwindling Confidence in NSFAS Amidst the ongoing challenges faced by the country’s largest bursary organization, students are gradually losing faith in the scheme that they are compelled to rely on for financial assistance.
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