The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has urged students who applied for free education not to panic if they have not yet received application results.
NSFAS spokesman Kagisho Mamabolo said yesterday that they were still processing applications but were nearly finished.
Over 90% of the 408000 applications received had been processed so far, and they expected to be able to communicate all pending funding decisions before the end of this month.
In the Eastern Cape, close to 60000 students applied for free education.
“We are in the process of finishing the remaining 10%. We have set a deadline for all outstanding admission files from the TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) colleges and registration files from universities to conclude all funding decisions for 2018,” Mamabolo said.
“We are trying by all means to make sure that all pending applications are concluded and finalised.
“This will enable us to communicate all pending funding decisions before the end of the first quarter.”
Of the students who applied for financial assistance in the Eastern Cape, 15072 are from Walter Sisulu University, 4308 from University of Fort Hare, 8844 from Nelson Mandela University and 1448 from Rhodes University.
A total of 33276 new applications were received from students for TVET colleges such as Buffalo City, King Hintsa and Lovedale.
Mamabolo was unable to give the exact number of students who had been approved so far, saying they were still awaiting final registration data from higher learning institutions.
NSFAS has struggled with incomplete application forms and outstanding documents.
As a result, the scheme recently offered to assist applicants to upload outstanding documents. NSFAS has been calling the students and talking them through the process.
“It is important that applicants should provide NSFAS with correct and accurate information.
“This will assist with meeting our targets and deadlines for funding decisions,” Mamabolo said.
Former minister of finance Malusi Gigaba last month announced that R57-billion had been allocated to fund free education over the next three years.
Before the announcement Eastern Cape universities confirmed receiving an up-front payment of more than R200-million from NSFAS to assist students who qualified for free education. The amount was part of R1.5-billion that the scheme paid to all universities across the country to cover registration fees, books and other essentials.
Walter Sisulu University received the lion’s share of R91-million, Fort Hare received R45-million, Nelson Mandela University R50-million and Rhodes University R9-million. — firstname.lastname@example.org