Nsfas Pushes to Clear the Payment Mess 75% Of Beneficiaries Have Been Validated.The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) announces significant progress in addressing funding challenges as students prepare to return to various tertiary institutions. According to NSFAS, approximately 75% of successfully validated beneficiaries are now receiving their allowances.
Urgent Submission of Registration Data for Timely Payments
NSFAS urges institutions to expedite the submission of registration data to ensure that all beneficiaries receive their payments in the upcoming payment run scheduled for 31 July.
Funding Issues and Investigation Findings
The funding issues emerged following an investigation conducted by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) three months ago. The investigation revealed that the scheme had disbursed over R5 billion, from 2018 to 2021, to students who were ineligible for bursaries.
As a result, students who had previously been approved for funding and had been receiving monthly allowances since the beginning of the year experienced a halt in payments starting from May. This situation led to protests concerning unpaid allowances, accommodation, registration, as well as safety and security concerns. Some students even lost their spaces at residences.
Collaborative Efforts to Resolve the Issue
In response to the situation, NSFAS engaged with student bodies to address the defunding of students and direct payment methods. After consulting with the Auditor-General, conducting internal compliance processes, and considering the SIU’s observations, the scheme implemented a remedial process. Students found to have been funded based on incorrect information were promptly defunded.
Following a meeting with the South African Union of Students (SAUS) and direct payment partners in Cape Town, NSFAS committed to communicate the necessary steps to all students affected by the recent defunding process.
Fast-Track Submission of Registration Data and Support for Students
All institutions are strongly encouraged to accelerate the submission of the remaining 25% of registration data to ensure beneficiaries receive their payments in the upcoming payment run scheduled for 31 July. NSFAS has committed to deploying capable teams within a week of institutions reopening to assist with swift student onboarding and the issuance of physical bank cards.
In recent weeks, NSFAS has intensified its efforts to engage meaningfully with universities, TVET colleges, and student organizations. The aim is to ensure that the servicing of NSFAS beneficiaries remains consistently reliable and well-coordinated.
Addressing Challenges and Enhancing the Payment System
NSFAS acknowledges that the new payment system may present unforeseen challenges. However, it emphasizes its commitment to be directly accountable for student allowance payments. The scheme recognizes the need to improve the user-friendliness of the payment system and pledges to deploy additional staff members from service providers to assist students with enrollment and receiving their allowances promptly.
NSFAS and SAUS have also agreed to work on enhancing the usability of the payment system, making it quick and standardized for all NSFAS beneficiaries. Additionally, efforts are being made to remove functional restrictions on bank cards, allowing students to utilize them like any other bank card.
Action Against Non-Compliant Institutions and Investigation of Complaints
SAUS expresses its concern over some universities intentionally withholding registration data of NSFAS students. They highlight the failure of these institutions to submit the data within the next 72 hours. SAUS intends to take appropriate action against these universities and report them to the Parliament’s portfolio committee.
NSFAS assures that investigations will be conducted into complaints and any substantiated allegations will be addressed accordingly. Service providers will be instructed to increase their physical presence at higher learning institutions.
As the return to tertiary institutions draws near, NSFAS and relevant stakeholders are striving to ensure a smoother funding process for students, thereby facilitating their educational pursuits effectively.
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