NSFAS Terms and Conditions

NSFAS Terms and Conditions

Summary of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act, no. of 56 of 1999

This Act establishes what is called the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which grants loans and bursaries to eligible students at public higher education institutions. The Act recognises the need to redress past discrimination and to ensure equal access to education and training. Together with the Skills Development Act and the Higher Education Act, it aims to respond to the human resource development needs of South Africa.

All laws to do with the management of the scheme, the granting of bursaries and the provision and recovery of loans are set out in this Act.

What Does the NSFAS Do?

According to the Act, the NSFAS has serveral functions. These include:
  • raising, allocating and recovering funds for loans and bursaries,
  • developing criteria for eligibility for the granting of loans and bursaries,
  • keeping a database and researching ways of utilising financial resources effectively,
  • advising the Minister of Education on matters relating to student financial aid.

The scheme is managed by the NSFAS board, which has certain regulations regarding its composition.

NSFAS FundsThe funds for the scheme consist of:
  • money appropriated by parliament,
  • donations and contributions,
  • interest,
  • money repaid or repayable by borrowers, and
  • any other income received by NSFAS.
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The Board may establish executive, finance and other committees to pool expertise to help it with its functions.

Members must meet at least twice a year, or, if asked to do so in writing. At least one third of the members must be present for a meeting to be held. Absence from three consecutive meetings (without being granted leave by the chairperson) will result in the board member’s dismissal.

The Board must be audited annually and must submit an annual report to the Minister of Education.

Loans and Bursaries

Any student may apply to the NSFAS for funding, using the prescribed application form. The success of an application will depend on various conditions determined by the Board, and these will vary in respect of particular loans and bursaries.

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If a student is granted a loan or bursary, he or she must enter into an agreement with the NSFAS, and money granted must be used only for the specific course of study. The funds are paid to the designated higher education institution, which will administer the bursary.

If the student does not perform satisfactorily, the NSFAS has the right to withdraw funding and the student will have to refund the scheme.

Repayment of loans

All loans must be repaid according to the loan agreement, and failure to refund the scheme may result in the defaulter being blacklisted.

All borrowers are required by law to provide the Board with details of their address, employment status and the name and address of their employer. If the borrower does not give this information to the NSFAS, it has the right to seek this information from the South African Revenue Service.

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The NSFAS may enter into an agreement with the employer of a borrower, stipulating that the money owed to the Scheme is deducted from the borrower’s salary. Deductions must be paid over to the NSFAS, and an employer who fails to do this will be guilty of an offence. The deduction is still consider as part of the borrower’s salary and is taxable.

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