Financial Aid: Which Institutions Offer this?

Financial aid

Are you looking to study but can’t fit the bill? Well, we’ve got some good news for you – financial aid is a real funding option. Find out more right here, right now.

In South Africa, universities and TVET colleges are extending a helping hand to assist students who possess the potential to study further but don’t necessarily have the means. How? Yes, financial aid is available for both types of institutions. They are offering different methods of financial aid. Internal and external university funding are different forms in which universities work to provide assistance.

Financial aid differs from other funding options in that it takes many forms: loans, bursaries, scholarships. In essence, it is any funding that assists students in being able to pay for their tertiary education.

Financial Aid…How Does it Work

All financial aid generally favours disadvantaged students who show great potential. At tertiary institutions, financial aid is divided into two groups, namely:

Internal University Funding:
This type of financial aid is awarded to both entry and postgraduate students, for academic and non-academic performances. TVET colleges, universities and universities of technology offer different financial aid packages and each package has its own set of requirements. Types of financial aid associated with this option include:

  • Merit awards for academic performances
  • Merit awards for non-academic performances
  • Bursaries

External Institution Funding:
Financial aid is provided by sources outside of the institution and is available to both undergraduate and postgraduate students for academic and non-academic performances. External financial aid has its own set of requirements which universities have no control over. Some external funding includes:

  • NSFAS
  • Bursaries
  • Student loans
  • Scholarships
  • Grants

NSFAS Sounds Familiar…

NSFAS is a bursary that is offered to students. In some cases, NSFAS doesn’t cover all the costs involved and some universities offer to cover what NSFAS doesn’t. Universities do not handout NSFAS application forms any longer. They do however redirect you to the official NSFAS homepage for completion of the online form, alternatively, students can call 0800067327 for any further assistance. If you would like to read up some more on what NSFAS is and how it works then check out this Educonnect article about NSFAS: Guide to funding.

It is key to note that continued financial aid support depends on the student’s academic profile, meaning that each year the student must justify the need for the financial aid with academic results and proof of financial constraints.

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NSFAS - Let's Break it Down

The South African government has pledged that education should be free for underprivileged and working-class students. Does this mean that they can help you fund your studies, and how can you get on board?

Getting Financial Aid

Firstly, you will need to check if you meet the minimum requirements…

Below is a list of the requirements for NSFAS.

  • Must be a South African citizen
  • Must have a combined annual household income that does not exceed R350 000 per annum
  • Be a SASSA grant recipient
  • Be registered for the first time for an undergraduate qualification at a public university OR be registered at a TVET college for one of the National Certificate Vocational or report 191 programme
  • Are applying to study at a public university or TVET College for a qualification
  • Are a registered university student with an annual household income of less than R122 000 per annum
  • Passed grade 9 and 10 to receive NSFAS funding to study at a TVET college
  • Passed grade 12 to receive NSFAS funding to study at a university

NSFAS is one of the most popular financial aid options. For external funding, it helps to apply well in advance as most of these options have deadlines. Despite the fact that they generally accommodate financial aid approval before applying for admission, they will require proof of admission for the funds to be released for your studies.

Internal university funding information is available on each institution’s website.

If all requirements are met, then you need to apply at a university, university of technology or TVET college for admission and student housing. Once that step is completed, then only can you apply for financial aid. All institutions provide information on the application process – it is very important that you read up on the institution’s financial aid application process and speak to the financial aid office.

Then comes the hard part, waiting for approval or rejection regarding the funding. Being approved is beyond the tertiary institution’s power for external funding (including NSFAS). Both approvals and rejections are communicated in a timeous manner to provide students with information on how to move forward. Internal university funding approvals will be communicated by the institutions directly.

Institution Financial Aid

This is the part where we tell you which institutions offer internal financial aid. This is valuable information so listen up 🙂

Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) (Click here)

TUT financial aid includes bursaries, loans and merit awards. Merit awards are offered internally and offer assistance to both undergraduates and postgraduates, as well as academic and non-academic performances.

The following conditions apply for Merit Awards on the basis of academic performances for undergraduate, first-year students for the first time:

> Newcomer students who enroll for a National Diploma or a BTech at the university
> Only South African citizens qualify for a bursary
> Register for all the modules of a specific course
> Eligibility is determined by the average percentage of each subject on the Grade 12 certificate which will provide an accumulated discount based on the subjects passed on a certain level
> Allocations are made annually, and should a student cancel their registration in the year they receive the award, they will forfeit the allocation

Criteria for academic merit for both undergraduate and postgraduate students is as follows:

TUT Fin Aid

The following conditions apply for Merit Awards for non-academic performances (Sports Bursaries):

> Students need to apply for sports bursaries at the directorate sport and Recreation at the different learning sites and submit documentary proof of their sporting achievements
> Students who are recipients of bursaries shall be required to competitively participate in the chosen sport of the university and remain an active member of the club in the year of allocation
> Academic progress is essential. If a student does not pass at least 50% of the number of subjects they are registered for, they shall not be considered the next year
> Students need to apply for the bursary and will be considered if they are registered for a National Diploma, BTech, MTech or a doctorate

Here is a breakdown of TUT’s non-academic financial aid categories:

For a list of all the available external university funding that students can apply for and more information regarding all things financial aid, visit the TUT Financial Aid page or contact their financial aid offices.

University of Cape Town (UCT) (Click here)

UCT financial aid includes loans, bursaries, and scholarships. UCT offers financial aid to fill in the gaps that NSFAS won’t – the university offers a GAP Funding for eligible applicants. The only amount that will be required of you is an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which is to be paid by either your parents/guardian for that study year and is usually lower than 10% of the total study costs. Find more information regarding how the UCT GAP Fund works.

Requirements for GAP assistance are:

> South African citizenship OR Permanent residency (conditions apply)
> First undergraduate qualification
> Financial eligibility
> Applicant must not be under an administrative order

Renewals are awarded to eligible students, based on academic performance each year. No student will be funded for longer than the minimum study duration for the programme plus 1 year.

Only a selected few diplomas are funded by the university, visit their website to check which programmes are considered for financial aid. Financial aid is awarded based on the student’s academic performance and lack of finances.

For more information regarding the rules and policies for UCT financial aid, please visit the university’s Financial assistance page.

University of Free State (UFS) (Click here)

UFS financial aid is available to prospective, current and postgraduate students. Their financial aid package offers a range of bursaries, loans and merit awards. UFS offers information regarding NSFAS as well.

Internal University Funding is available in the form of bursaries and merit awards. For prospective and current undergraduates.

Merit awards for prospective undergraduates are allocated according to the Merit scale where the higher the APS, the higher the award amount. Merit awards are only awarded to students who are registered for any of the following courses:

> The University Preparation Programmes
> Extended Programmes
> Higher certificate in Humanities
> Higher certificate in BCom
> Higher certificate in BAdmin

*Life Orientation receives only 1 point if a student achieves 60% or more.

Merit awards for postgraduates are based on the academic performance of the student and are structured as follows:

> Honours awards are allocated to students who have a total examination mark of 69.5% and above and students who have registered for further degree studies.
> Masters awards are automatically allocated to registered doctoral students who have obtained their master’s degree with distinctions.
> Doctoral awards are allocated to students who have obtained their master’s degree with distinctions and are registered for a doctoral study at UFS.

Kovsie Alumni Trust Bursary Fund: KAT bursaries are subject to availability of funding and are based on the following criteria and points.

For more information regarding bursaries available and any further assistance that might be needed, visit their financial aid information page.

University of Western Cape (UWC) (Click here)

UWC financial aid consists of packages in the form of bursaries and merit awards, which are available for both undergraduates and senior undergraduates. The criteria are based on academic performance and financial need.

UWC senior bursary awards require students to have an average of 65% or more for the application to be considered and covers part of the tuition fees only.

Students using NSFAS to pay for studies need to submit proof of bursary to the financial aid office prior to registration. This will then be forwarded to Student Credit Control for Clearance. Full cost bursary holders are responsible for paying the minimum registration fees and registration for part cost bursary.

As part of their internal funding, UWC offers merit awards to deserving first-year students and the conditions for the award are as follows:

UWC financial aid is open to all South African citizens and permanent residents. The following documents are needed:

> Proof of income (Not older than 3 months)
> All copies must be certified (Not older than 3 months)
> If a student is supported by a guardian, a death certificate of parent(s) or a letter from Social Services should be included
> Proof of registration of sibling(s) at tertiary education
> If a family is fostering a child, include court decree
> Marriage certificate of applicant’s parents, if married OR Marriage certificate of the applicant

For more information regarding UWC financial aid and a list of bursaries that are being offered, information is provided on their website or you are more than welcome to contact the Financial Aid Help Desk.

University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) (Click here)

UKZN offers students a range of financial aid, including loans, bursaries, and scholarships. The packages are made up of both internal and external university funding and the university also has financial aid advisors ready to assist students in obtaining a financial aid that is best suited to them.

The financial aid advisors from UKZN are categorised according to the different faculties and are accessible from every one of their campuses, which makes it ideal as they aid in supplying students with the best available funding options for their studies. They also offer advice about how to cut costs where possible.

Loans: Most of these are offered by FUNDI and cover tuition fees, registration fees, study material and equipment, and accommodation. They are open to all South African students.

Loans are also offered to Zimbabwean students which are made available by Educate. They offer an Educate Unischolar Plan. The plan pays for tuition, cost of books, accommodation, and foreign student levy. The funds are paid directly to the university on the student’s behalf. The requirements that need to be met for Zimbabwean students are:

> Proforma invoice of fees for academic year/semester
> Copy of ID of applicant and guarantor
> Copy of ID or student card of student
> Proof of residence of applicant and guarantor
> One passport sized photo of applicant and student
> Proof of income of applicant and guarantor

UKZN has sponsors that contribute to the bursaries that the university offers students. They also accept the assistance of NSFAS and have some sponsors that contribute to the university’s internal funding.

External University Funding: UKZN gets a lot of assistance from external donors. Students who apply for financial aid are automatically considered for the number of bursaries available. There are policies and parameters set in place to ensure efficient and effective processing of applications.

Contact information for UKZN Financial Aid Offices is available on their website and to find out which campus is closest to you please have a look at University of KwaZulu Natal Financial Aid Office.

Financial Aid Facts

  • The universities reserve the right to amend, without prior notice, the regulations and bursary/loan values and/or conditions applicable to the awarding of bursaries/loans
  • Students can only make use of one financial aid package
  • Universities reserve the right to take action and withdraw all funding if such funding was received as a result of fraud
  • Eligibility for renewal of all funding programmes is subject to students passing registered courses in the prior academic year

EduConnect 2Cents

Most people think that all forms of financial aid is free and don’t require any payback which isn’t the case. If you’re making use of financial aid, then make sure that you understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Be sure to read the fine print and the extra fine print, more than once if need be. That being said, financial aid is a fantastic way to pay for your studies and it provides an opportunity for you to score a qualification. It’s time to find funding!

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