NSFAS Loans Available For Postgrad Courses. In a significant move to tackle the financial challenges faced by students in the “missing middle,” the Higher Education Minister has initiated the first phase of the Comprehensive Student Funding Model. This article delves into the details of how NSFAS postgraduate funding will be implemented.
Expanded Financial Support for Eligible Students in 2024
Starting 2024, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is set to provide crucial financial assistance to students from families earning between R350,000 and R600,000 annually. This opens the door for eligible students within this income bracket to apply for NSFAS student loans.
Minister Nzimande Launches Comprehensive Funding Model
In January, Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, launched the Comprehensive Funding Model. This groundbreaking initiative extends NSFAS support not only to undergraduate students but also to postgraduate students.
Dual Funding for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students
It’s essential to note that the scheme covers both undergraduate and postgraduate students, representing a significant expansion of NSFAS funding opportunities. Applications for NSFAS student loans for 2024 are currently being accepted, urging students to submit their applications during the designated period.
Phase 1 Funding Allocation and “Missing Middle” Concept
Minister Nzimande disclosed that in the first phase of 2024, R3.8 billion would be available to support the loan scheme. This funding, consisting of R1.5 billion from the National Skills Fund and an additional R2.3 billion from the Setas, aims to support 47% of “missing middle” students.
The term “missing middle” pertains to students who are considered too affluent for bursaries but lack the financial means to cover tertiary education expenses.
Priority Allocation to STEM Disciplines
Highlighting the significance of prioritizing scarce skills programs aligned with the National Development Plan, NSFAS loans will prioritize science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. A substantial 70% of the available funding will be allocated to STEM programs, with the remaining 30% directed towards humanities and social sciences qualifications.
Requirements for Student Loans
Students applying for the new scheme must meet specific criteria, including:
- Annual household income between R350,001 and R600,000
- Enrollment at a public university
- Maintaining an average of 60% in coursework for continued funding
Loan Forgiveness and Distinctions
A notable distinction between NSFAS student loans and traditional student loans is that students achieving over 70% and completing their courses within the prescribed timeframe can apply to have 50% of the loan forgiven. This emphasizes academic excellence as a pathway to easing the financial burden of education.