A twitter storm brewed last weekend after a number of Wits students alleged that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) had withdrawn funding offers with scant explanation for its actions.
They addressed their heated allegations to Wits SRC Treasurer General Thando Mntambo, who immediately took up their grievances and included @myNSFAS in the twitter conversation.
“We have so far received numerous emails from students confirming that this is indeed happening,” said Mntambo when contacted by Wits Vuvuzela.
“We first have to understand the issue before tackling it, so the first thing being done is the collection of the database to scope the immensity of the problem while in the interim we are pursuing the channels available to us to try and get answers to this question, after which we will do what is necessary to solve the problem,” Mntambo said.
Sharon Ndlovu, a second year BA Law student, was one of the students who approached the SRC via twitter.
“I applied last year through Wits and in January I got a notification that my application was received,” Ndlovu wrote.
Ndlovu said that her application status was changed to “financial eligibility evaluated” but then last Friday, February 17, she got an SMS informing her that her application was unsuccessful due to the institution she chose. The correspondence, which has been seen by Wits Vuvuzela, advised her to apply to a TVET college and “your application may be reconsidered”.
When Ndlovu called NSFAS to query this they sang a different tune.
“They said they are short of funds,” Ndlovu said.
NSFAS Spokesperson, Kagisho Mamabolo, clarified the confusion to Wits Vuvuzela: “All returning students who received NSFAS in 2016 were advised not to apply online because they were going to be funded automatically should they pass 50% of their modules.”
He said that those who didn’t follow the guidelines and applied online had created duplication of their details on the system as NSFAS had made advanced arrangements with universities to enrol them without having to apply.
“Therefore the system automatically rejected their application because they are already funded and are in class,” said Mamabolo.
“They shouldn’t panic and should proceed to study as normal,” he said.
However, all returning students who did not have NSFAS in the previous years (including 2016) and had applied for 2017, and were unsuccessful, are advised to appeal, not enrol in a TVET College, he said.
Sharon Ndlovu is a new applicant, and since the clarification by NSFAS, has appealed the rejection of her application.
Students have until February 28 to appeal their declined applications for funding.