Universities will soon lose their powers to allocate National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NFSAS) funds to poor students as the government body tightens its grip on finances.
Presenting the proposed new funding system at the University of the Witwatersrand on Tuesday night‚ NSFAS chairperson Sizwe Nxasana blasted universities for being part of the problem of causing blockages for students from accessing funding to higher education.
He said universities often did as they pleased when allocating NSFAS funds. In some cases universities would give students inadequate financial support and in return the same students would end up as drop-outs with bad debt.
According to the current NSFAS system‚ a single student qualifies for a maximum of R72 000 per year.
Nxasana gave an example of a university that was given R400-million‚ but it decided to allocate it to 10 000 students.
“As a result of that‚ each student got about R20 000 for that year and had to scrape around for extra funding for books and accommodation. Many of them dropped out and were left with heavy debt. This is the reason why we want to take control of every cent‚” Nxasana said.
He said the current drop-out rate of NSFAS beneficiaries stood at about 60% which has ripple effects on the recovery of funds to sponsor new students.
Nxasana also plans is to increase the maximum household income for applicants from R120 000 per annum to about R500 000 in order to address the issue of “missing middle” students.
The application process will also be centralised and ran by NSFAS in collaboration with various government entities who will help in vetting of applicants.
The new system will be rolled out in 2018.
- Dispatch live