The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has opened applications for funding for 2021. Prospective students have until November 30 2020 to apply for funding for the next academic year.

Announcing the launch in a statement yesterday, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said: “We need to foster a culture of doing things on time and don’t leave them to the last hour. NSFAS has made arrangements to provide applications centres across the country, utilising facilities of generous stakeholders. These efforts are meant to bridge the gap in inequality.”

The minister also thanked National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), which has helped applicants to apply at their application centres across the country. “NYDA has centres across nine provinces, offering a variety of services to students, and out of school youth. The NYDA centres will be fully operational and accessible to applicants from September 1, 2020, during office hours,” he said.

Who can apply for NSFAS funding?

The NSFAS funds tertiary level studies at public institutions for South African citizens from families with a combined annual household income of less than R350,000 a year. For students with a disability, the household income limit is raised to R600,000 a year.

Where can I apply for NSFAS funding?

Applications for 2021 funding are done online using the myNSFAS portal. The portal has been improved with better security features and is more user friendly than last year. Students need to first register. If you have already registered an account it is essential that you log into that account as you are only allowed to create one profile. If you’ve forgotten your password, you can request to reset it from the log in form.

What do I need to apply for NSFAS funding?

New applicants need a copy of their ID or birth certificate to register and create a profile on the myNSFAS portal. You will also need to to submit proof of income of your parents or guardians as well as copies of their ID. Applicants must also to consent for their personal information to be verified by NSFAS third parties, so that the Department of Home Affairs can verify the link between the applicant and the parents/guardians. Please note that you cannot complete your application without consenting to this.

Changes due to the Covid pandemic

Due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, applicants will not be required to submit or upload the physical consent form. Instead you need to accept the electronic consent form, along with the terms and conditions for funding.

How do I get help with my application?

NSFAS closed its call centre in March due to the lockdown, but has launched a virtual contact centre to help students. The virtual contact centre helps students with query resolutions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There is also NSFAS Chat, a live interactive platform which can be accessed once logged in to the myNSFAS portal.

What other funding options are there?

If you do not fit the requirements for academic funding from NSFAS, there are some other options available. Please have a look at our entrepreneurial funding page to see some other institutions offering funding.