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NSFAS Opens Applications For Missing Middle Loans

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NSFAS Opens Applications For Missing Middle Loans

NSFAS Opens Applications For Missing Middle Loans. NSFAS has officially opened its doors for applications from missing middle students, providing funding for 31,000 individuals. As part of the Comprehensive Student Funding Model’s first phase, the loan scheme targets students falling within the “missing middle” category—those with family incomes ranging from R350,000 to R600,000, ineligible for NSFAS bursaries but facing financial challenges in pursuing tertiary education.

Financial Allocation for 2024 Academic Year

Minister Blade Nzimande announced a substantial capitalization fund of R3.8 billion for the 2024 academic year, with R1.5 billion sourced from the National Skills Fund (NSF) and R2.3 billion from Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). This financial support is expected to benefit 47% of the estimated 68,446 missing middle students, totaling 31,884 individuals.

Eligibility Criteria and Funding Conditions

NSFAS is in the process of formulating eligibility criteria and funding conditions for the missing middle loan scheme. The primary criteria are based on the family’s household income falling between R350,000 and R600,000, coupled with enrollment in specific programs. Unlike NSFAS bursaries, these student loans cater to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs (70%) and Humanities and social science programs (30%).

Application Period and Process

Students within the missing middle category are urged to apply before the application period concludes on January 31, 2024. Applications can be submitted through the myNSFAS portal. Additionally, those previously rejected for NSFAS bursaries will undergo automatic reassessment for eligibility under the missing middle loan scheme.

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NSFAS’s Evolution: From Loan to Bursary

Before its transformation into a bursary in 2018, NSFAS initially operated as a loan scheme. Minister Nzimande disclosed ongoing government efforts to recover student debts from the pre-2018 loan era, estimated at over R40 billion. Despite stable recoveries, the government is actively working to enhance the collection process, having successfully recovered over R110 million in the current fiscal year.

Student Debt Recovery and Collaborative Efforts

The government is diligently pursuing student debt recoveries, appealing to students to fulfill their financial obligations and repay their student loans to sustain the loan scheme. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is actively engaged in the process, securing acknowledgments of debt totaling over R4 million from individuals and R38 million from higher education institutions. Collaborative efforts between NSFAS and SIU aim to facilitate the return of an additional R58 million currently held in trust by institutions.

Conclusion

NSFAS opening of applications for missing middle loans represents a pivotal step in expanding financial assistance. The allocated funds and inclusive approach to both undergraduate and postgraduate students signal a commitment to addressing financial barriers in higher education.

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