Who and what is NSFAS, and what does the Extended NSFAS Grant mean?

If you do not know how the Extended NSFAS Grant work, or who NSFAS is, what exactly a NSFAS Grant work, and who can or can not apply for a NSFAS Grant, then please read further for all this information and more.

What does NSFAS stand for and what does NSFAS do?

  • NSFAS stands for – National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
  • NSFAS is funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training.
  • NSFAS  is the biggest loan and bursary scheme in South Africa that provides loans/grants, for students with a very small total amount of household income and who do not qualify for any other study loans or grant/bursary programs to study for a qualification.

What is a NSFAS Grant?

A NSFAS Grant is the money you get to pay for your studies when you study at any public University (UNISA) or College in South Africa.  However, this NSFAS Grant is only for certain qualifications.

The Extended NSFAS Grant increase – what does it mean?

  • Previously the students with less than a total combined annual household income of R122 000 were allowed to apply for a NSFAS Grant.
  • Recently the amount of R122 000 total combined household income has been increased to R350 000.
  • The Extended NSFAS Grant funding is for returning students at UNISA and other higher education institutes who have a combined yearly income of less than R350 000.  The extended funding will be implemented over the next 5 years.

Combined annual household income – what is it?

  • First of all, “household” refers to all the immediate family members living in the same house, under the same roof as the student who is applying for the loan/grant.  (Immediate family means the following people:  parents (mother and father), brothers, sisters, grandparents, grand children, husband/wife, own children, mother in law, father in law, brothers and sisters in law, sons and daughters in law, as well as adopted, half and step members of the family.
  • Combined annual household income means it is the total amount of money (income) that a student and his/her immediate family that are all living in one household together, earns in a year.
  • This money includes; salaries, wages, pensions, grants, rental or business income, or any other ways of financial income.

Who can apply for an Extended NSFAS Grant?

  • Students who are legal South African citizens, and have a valid South African ID document.
  • Students who have registered to study for an undergraduate qualification for the first time at UNISA.
  • Students who have never before registered to study at any other University or College for any academic qualifications.
  • Students who already have a NSFAS Grant.  NSFAS loans will be changed into a grant (bursary), and that means that students who have a NSFAS loan, would not need to pay back their NSFAS loans.
  • A student living in a household where the combined/total income of everyone living there, are less than R350 000 per year.

Please take note:

  • Unisa students will be given the option to apply for the extended NSFAS grant for 2021.   
  • Unisa will provide the details of the students who have been temporarily confirmed for a NSFAS Grant.

Who are not allowed to apply for an Extended NSFAS Grant?

  • A student who is not a legal South African citizen and do not have a valid South African ID document.
  • A student who are already studying at a University, College or any other higher education institution, and does not already have an approved NSFAS Grant/loan.  (These students also then need to pay for their own study fees.)
  • Students who have registered before for any further higher academic qualification, at any other higher education institution, including students who are registering again to study at UNISA.
  • A student who has already applied and qualified for a NSFAS Grant for the 2021 academic year.
  • Students with more than the R350 000 specified, total combined annual household income per year.

When can I apply for an Extended NSFAS Grant for 2021?

  • A student may apply for the 2021 extended NSFAS grant for Unisa students as part of Unisa’s registration process.
  • Students can only apply for the Extended NSFAS Grant during the normal Unisa registration periods.  Click here to see when is the next up coming Unisa registration dates.
  • NO late and / or incomplete applications will be considered.

When will I know the results of my application?

  • By Mid-February Unisa will provide students registered for semester 1 modules, with their original result of their application for the 2021 extended NSFAS grant, and
  • By Mid-April for students registered for registered for year modules.
  • Your registration for the 2021 extended NSFAS grant will be finalised once your application is successful.
  • However, you will need to pay your student fees yourself when your application is unsuccessful.
  • In order for your registration to be finalised, you need to pay the minimum amount that is stated on your account.

How do I apply for an Extended NSFAS Grant?

For a detailed step-by-step guideline to apply for an Extended NSFAS Grant, please click here.

What documentation do I need to apply for an Extended NSFAS Grant?

For all correct documentation that you need to have ready to be able to apply for an Extended NSFAS Grant, please click here.

Written by: Tabitha Bailey

Last updated:  August 05, 2020