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Missing Middle Students Can Now Get Government Loans | NSFAS

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Missing Middle Students Can Now Get Government Loans | NSFAS

Missing Middle Students Can Now Get Government Loans | NSFAS. Students previously excluded from NSFAS bursaries due to a marginally higher family income now have a new opportunity. The Higher Education Minister recently announced the introduction of a government loan scheme to assist the “missing middle” students in pursuing their studies.

While NSFAS has effectively supported students from low-income families, those earning just above the R350,000 per annum threshold faced a lack of government support. This gap, known as the “missing middle,” has been a persistent challenge that the government aims to address through the newly introduced loan scheme.

Implementation and Timeline

The government’s response to the missing middle issue is swift, with the new scheme set to accept applications within the next few weeks. Starting from the 2024 academic year, students with a household income of up to R600,000 per annum will be eligible for financial assistance. Funding for this initiative will be drawn from the National Skills Fund and the Setas.

Financial Growth Plan

Minister of Higher Education Dr Blade Nzimande outlined a strategic plan to increase the scheme’s budget gradually. Starting at R3 billion, the budget is expected to grow annually, reaching R42 billion in a decade. This growth is crucial for sustaining support for missing middle students.

Loan Details

Under the new scheme, both undergraduate and postgraduate students, from first-year to final-year, can benefit. The loans cover tuition fees, accommodation, and allowances. Notably, students achieving above 70% in their studies and completing courses within the stipulated time frame can have half of the loan amount forgiven.

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Selective Funding

In a departure from NSFAS, the new loans will be selective based on the students’ chosen courses. Seventy percent of the loans will be allocated to STEM subjects, including commerce and entrepreneurial studies, with the remaining 30% directed towards students in the humanities.

Eligibility and Institutions

The loans are exclusively for students registered at TVET Colleges or public universities. Unfortunately, no funding is available for those attending private colleges or higher education institutions.

Conclusion

The introduction of this new government loan scheme represents a significant step in addressing the financial challenges faced by the missing middle students. The strategic approach to budget growth and the selective allocation of funds based on courses demonstrate a commitment to fostering educational opportunities and bridging existing gaps.

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