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Study for free through UNISA this year

By Danielle van Wyk

The end of December marked President Zuma’s announcement that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will be increasing their funding for first time university or Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students from South African households with a combined annual income of up to R350 000. The University of South Africa (UNISA) is one such university that embraced this announcement. 

What does this mean?

  • If you are a first-time student and your NSFAS application is approved, NSFAS will pay your 2018 fees to UNISA.
  • If you are an existing NSFAS recipient, your loan will be converted to a bursary that does not have to be repaid.
  • But, if you are an existing student and not a NSFAS recipient, you are liable to pay your own fees.

“Although the threshold to qualify for NSFAS assistance has been increased from R122 000 to R350 000, this only applies to new students (not returning students) in 2018. The extended funding (for a returning student with a combined annual household income of less than R350 000) will be phased in over the next five years,” UNISA stated.

What is a combined income?

“This is the total income earned by the student and his or her direct family (spouse, mother, father or legal guardian) in the form of wages, salaries, grants, pensions or other sources of income, including rental or business income,” UNISA explained.

Due to the announcement this means that the gross combined annual household income (income before deductions) may not exceed R350 000 per annum for you to qualify.

Do you qualify?

Apart from having a combined annual household income of up to R350 000, the following are other things you too must adhere to in order to qualify:

  • You are applying for the first time for an undergraduate qualification.
  • You have not registered for any formal qualification at any other higher education institution.
  • You are a South African citizen (with a South African ID).

The application process

First-time UNISA students who qualify may apply for the extended 2018 NSFAS funding from 3 to 26 January 2018 as part of the registration process.

“NSFAS applications are closed for 2018. As part of the Unisa registration process, however, you will be provided with an option to apply for the 2018 extended NSFAS grant for Unisa students. Unisa will submit the details of those students who have been provisionally verified to NSFAS,” stated UNISA.

Application forms are available on UNISA’s site.

“Unisa will provide you with the initial outcome of your application for the 2018 extended NSFAS grant for Unisa students by mid-February for students registered for semester 1 modules and by mid-April for students registered for year modules,” added UNISA.

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