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You can apply for student loans from NSFAS

NSFAS is the South African government student loan and bursary scheme that provide loans and bursaries to students for all 25 public universities and 50 public FET colleges throughout the country.

In the new student-centred model, the NSFAS promises to be in contact with learners from as early as grade 9, so that they know which loans and bursaries they can apply for before they leave school.

They have a central process for students to apply for NSFAS loans and bursaries. Students will be able to apply directly to NSFAS online and will be informed on the progress of their applications by SMS and email.

The closing date for new NSFAS applications at the universities and FET colleges was unfortunately on  10 January, however applications for the universities listed below have been extended to 31 January 2014:

  • Durban University of Technology
  • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
  • Sol Plaatje University
  • University of Cape Town
  • University of Mpumalanga
  • University of South Africa
  • University of Venda
  • Ekurhuleni East FET College
  • King Hintsa FET College
  • Motheo FET College
  • South Cape FET College
  • Umfolozi FET College

What is a student loan?

A student loan is the money you borrow from NSFAS to cover the costs of your studies at any of the 25 public universities in South Africa. The costs include tuition fees, residence or private accommodation costs, food, books and travel. This loan must be repaid to NSFAS when you have finished studying. Depending on your results, up to 40% of your NSFAS study loan may be converted into a bursary and you do not need to repay that amount.

NSFAS has very reasonable repayment terms, which are based on what you earn after you leave university. All loans that are repaid are used to fund other students who also need financial assistance.

NSFAS gives loans to students without the need for guarantees or sureties from parents or guardians.

What documents do I need when I apply?

When you apply for a NSFAS student loan, you must attach all the documents listed below:

  • Grade 12 Certificate.
  • South African Identity Document.
  • Proof of parents' income.
  • Proof of registration at school, college or university of brothers and sisters who live in the same household.
  • Proof of registration can be obtained at the institutions where your brothers and sisters are registered at.
  • Certified copies of their Birth Certificates and their Identity Documents.
  • If you have a permanent disability, a letter from your doctor to confirm proof of disability.
  • Letter of acceptance from the public university or college where you have applied to study.

For a complete list of all the required documents required when you apply for a NSFAS bursary or loan, click here.

How do I repay the student loan?

NSFAS student loans are income-contingent. This means that repayment starts only when you have an income, usually when you start working. NSFAS will send you statements showing how much you owe and how much you must pay back each month.

It is your legal responsibility to keep in touch with NSFAS and to inform them of any change of address.

How are repayments calculated?

NSFAS has made repayments affordable for you. Repayments of your student loan are based on the salary that you earn, and start once your salary is R30 000 or more per year.

Payments start at 3% of your annual salary, increasing to a maximum of 8% when your salary reaches R59 300 or more per year. For example, this means you will pay back R900 a year on a salary of R30 000 a year, or R84 per month.

When your salary is R59 300 you will pay back R4 744 a year or R696 a month. NSFAS charges lower interest rates than banks. Interest is charged at 80% of the repo rate, which is the repurchase rate at which the Reserve Bank lends to commercial banks. NSFAS will continue to charge interest on all outstanding balances. It is therefore very important to start repaying your loan as soon as possible.

How will I repay the loan if I am unemployed or still studying?

You do not have to repay if you are unemployed or still studying, but you do have to provide written proof (in the form of an affidavit, valid for 3 months) to say that you are unemployed.

Does NSFAS pay registration costs for first-year and returning students?

Yes, but only for students where the Expected Family Contribution is 0 on the Means Test.

How is part of a NSFAS loan converted into a bursary that does not have to be repaid?

Up to 40% of your student loan may be converted into a bursary and does not have to be repaid, depending on your year-end results. NSFAS checks these results with the university at the end of every year of study.

What happens to any money left over from my NSFAS student loan?

Money left over from a NSFAS study loan is never paid out to you. The money is deducted from the balance you owe. You will not have to pay interest on it, and NSFAS will have more funds to help other students like you. Funds paid back to NSFAS are used as your first repayment of your student loan.

What is a NSFAS bursary?

A NSFAS bursary is the money you receive to cover the costs of your studies for certain qualifications at any public university or college in South Africa. 

  • This money does not have to be repaid to NSFAS.
  • The NFSAS administer various bursary funds, including:
  • The Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme to train teachers
  • Bursaries for studying Social Work through the Department of Social Development
  • Bursaries from the National Skills Fund for scarce skills
  • Bursaries for the National Certificate (Vocational) and for certain Report 191 courses at FET colleges
  • The bursary programme of the Department of Higher Education and Training for students with disabilities. Click here for bursary applications


If you require assistance in completing your application form then contact:

  • The NSFAS contact centre on  0860 067 327, or
  • The FAO at the university or FET college that you wish to study at.

All information sourced from NSFAS website. Please visit their website for further extensive information. Click here to redirect to NFSAS

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