Boost for stu­dents from poor fam­i­lies

• So­cial grant re­cip­i­ents au­to­mat­i­cally eli­gi­ble for loans

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Bekezela Phakathi Cape Writer phakathib@busi­nesslive.co.za

Stu­dents from poor fam­i­lies have re­ceived a boost af­ter So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini an­nounced on Tues­day that aca­dem­i­cally de­serv­ing so­cial grant re­cip­i­ents would au­to­mat­i­cally be eli­gi­ble for the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme.

Stu­dents from poor fam­i­lies have re­ceived a boost af­ter So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini an­nounced on Tues­day that aca­dem­i­cally de­serv­ing so­cial grant re­cip­i­ents will au­to­mat­i­cally be eli­gi­ble for the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

The multi­bil­lion-rand gov­ern­ment higher ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing scheme has teamed up with the Depart­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment to pro­vide more sup­port to stu­dents who re­ceive so­cial grants.

Dlamini said in De­cem­ber that ma­tric­u­lants who re­ceived a so­cial grant and who were ac­cepted at an in­sti­tu­tion of higher learn­ing would no longer go through a means test to qual­ify for fi­nan­cial aid from NSFAS.

Dlamini said on Tues­day that of more than 188,000 grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries who wrote matric ex­ams in 2016, about 83% qual­i­fied to at­tend ei­ther uni­ver­sity or a col­lege.

Stu­dents re­ceiv­ing so­cial grants “should au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify for fund­ing to fur­ther their stud­ies ... the re­moval of the means test for fi­nan­cial el­i­gi­bil­ity on so­cial grant ben­e­fi­cia­ries means there should be no hin­drance in them pur­su­ing their cho­sen ca­reers”, said Dlamini.

Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the de­part­ments of so­cial de­vel­op­ment and ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion, 188,687 grant re­cip­i­ents sat for the 2016 matric ex­ams. Of these, 173,085 were re­cip­i­ents of child sup­port grants, 14,926 of fos­ter child grants and 676 of care de­pen­dency grants.

Dlamini said: “We are grate­ful for the ex­ist­ing part­ner­ship be­tween the Depart­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and NSFAS … it will ad­vance the hopes and as­pi­ra­tions of the poor and vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren in the coun­try.”

On Mon­day, the NSFAS re­opened ap­pli­ca­tions for 2017, which will re­main open un­til Jan­uary 20 for those who will be study­ing at a uni­ver­sity. Ap­pli­ca­tions can be made un­til Fe­bru­ary 14 for those who will be study­ing at a tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing col­lege.

The NSFAS has re­vamped its sys­tems to al­low stu­dents to ap­ply for fund­ing di­rectly to the scheme and not through ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions, as had been the case in the past.

From 2017, stu­dents will also not be re­quired to reap­ply for fi­nan­cial aid ev­ery year. They need ap­ply only once to be funded for the du­ra­tion of their stud­ies. Un­der the new model, stu­dents will com­mu­ni­cate with the NSFAS di­rectly and not through the fi­nan­cial of­fices of the uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges that they at­tend.

The scheme has been rocked by in­ef­fi­cien­cies and al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion in re­cent times.

Some ob­servers sug­gest that cor­rup­tion at NSFAS, which had seen dis­ad­van­taged youths miss­ing out on higher ed­u­ca­tion, was a fac­tor that sparked the #FeesMustFall protests.

188,687 GRANT RE­CIP­I­ENTS SAT FOR THE 2016 MATRIC EX­AMS AP­PLI­CA­TIONS FOR 2017 WILL RE­MAIN OPEN UN­TIL JAN­UARY 20

Batha­bile Dlamini

/Siyab­ulela Duda

As­pi­ra­tions: So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini says she is grate­ful for the part­ner­ship be­tween her depart­ment and the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme.

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