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Do You Have to Pay NSFAS Back



Do You Have to Pay NSFAS Back

Do You Have to Pay NSFAS Back. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in South Africa is a government initiative aimed at providing financial assistance to underprivileged students pursuing tertiary education. While NSFAS funding is crucial for many students, there is often confusion about whether the funds received need to be repaid. This article delves into the specifics of NSFAS repayments, focusing on the distinctions between bursaries and loans.

Do You Have to Pay NSFAS Back

Since December 2017, the majority of NSFAS funding has been classified as a bursary. This is significant because bursaries do not require repayment. This change was implemented to reduce the financial burden on students from low-income households and to promote higher education accessibility.

What is a Bursary?

A bursary is a financial award provided to students to help cover their educational expenses. Unlike a loan, a bursary does not need to be repaid, provided that the recipient meets certain conditions, such as passing their courses and completing their studies within a specified time frame.

Loans Granted Before December 2017

For students who received NSFAS funding before December 2017, the situation is different. Prior to this date, NSFAS provided loans, which students are required to repay once they start earning a specified minimum income. The repayment amount and period depend on the amount borrowed and the student’s earnings after graduation.

Repayment Criteria for Loans

  1. Employment and Income Threshold: Repayment of NSFAS loans begins once the student is employed and earns above a certain income threshold. This threshold is adjusted periodically to reflect economic conditions.
  2. Interest Rates: The loans carry a low-interest rate, which is designed to be affordable and manageable for graduates.
  3. Repayment Period: The repayment period can extend over several years, depending on the total amount borrowed and the graduate’s income level.

Specific Conditions – Funza Lushaka Bursary

Some NSFAS funding is tied to specific conditions, such as the Funza Lushaka Bursary. This bursary is intended for students pursuing teaching degrees and requires recipients to meet specific criteria, such as:

  1. Service Agreement: Graduates must teach at a public school for a number of years equivalent to the number of years they received the bursary.
  2. Repayment Requirement: If the recipient fails to fulfill the service agreement, the bursary converts to a loan that must be repaid.

Understanding Your Obligations

To ensure clarity and avoid surprises, students should thoroughly understand the terms of their NSFAS funding. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Check the Date: Determine whether your funding was received before or after December 2017 to understand if it is a loan or a bursary.
  2. Review Conditions: Carefully review any specific conditions tied to your funding, especially for specialized bursaries like the Funza Lushaka Bursary.
  3. Stay Informed: Keep abreast of any changes in NSFAS policies and repayment thresholds, which can impact your obligations.


Whether you have to pay back NSFAS funding depends largely on when you received the funds and under what conditions. Most funding provided since December 2017 is classified as a bursary and does not require repayment, while loans granted before this date do need to be repaid under certain conditions. Specialized bursaries, like the Funza Lushaka Bursary, have their own specific criteria that must be met to avoid repayment.

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