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Minister Nzimande Emphasizes Continuation of Direct Payment Model



Minister Nzimande Emphasizes Continuation of Direct Payment Model

Minister Nzimande Emphasizes Continuation of Direct Payment Model. Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande has reinforced the government dedication to the direct application and payment model for students. Despite recent corruption concerns in allowance-payment partner selection, Nzimande asserts that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) remains committed to the current approach.

Direct Payment Model to Persist as NSFAS Applications Open

Nzimande has made it clear that NSFAS has no intention of reverting to the previous funding model, emphasizing the importance of students applying directly to NSFAS rather than allocating funds to institutions. The integration of public universities and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges into this student-centric model marks a significant achievement for the scheme.

Challenges Acknowledged, Yet Direct Payment Deemed Optimal

While acknowledging challenges with NSFAS’s direct payment system, Nzimande affirms its status as the most effective method for disbursing funds to approximately 1.6 million students. Speaking in Pretoria during the announcement of the opening of NSFAS applications, he encourages students to apply early, highlighting the scheme’s commitment to quick turnaround times in decision-making.

NSFAS Applications Period Opens with Improved Processes

NSFAS applications officially opened on Tuesday and will close on January 31. Nzimande attributes the timing to SARS’s completion of the tax period, crucial for updated information during the application season. He urges students not to delay their applications and emphasizes that matric results are not a prerequisite for applying to NSFAS.

Immediate Funding Decisions for SASSA Beneficiaries

Nzimande assures that NSFAS will continue to make immediate funding decisions for first-time applicants who are beneficiaries of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). In 2023, 35% of funded students were SASSA beneficiaries, amounting to 526,970 students.

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Streamlined Verification Processes for 2024 Applicants

To enhance services for students, Nzimande announces that 2024 applicants will not need to submit supporting documents at the time of application. Improved third-party relations with entities like SASSA, SARS, and the Department of Home Affairs will provide NSFAS with necessary information for verification. Supporting documents will only be required in cases where third-party validations fail.

Appeals Process and Funding Policy for 2024

Nzimande outlines that all first-time applicants can appeal if rejected, while returning and continuing students can appeal from the end of November. NSFAS commits to finalizing all appeals and outstanding allowances by the end of 2023. Additionally, the proposed funding policy for 2024, covering eligibility criteria and student allowances, will be issued by the end of November, with the aim of reviewing it every two years for stability.

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