Education students not being paid their financial aid allowance for almost two months has left some of them sleeping on campus property and begging for food from friends.
Their allowance is paid by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), a loan and bursary scheme funded by the national department of education.
Thami Sthamza Zondo, a 1st yr BEd student, slept in the library for two-and-a-half weeks because he could not afford accommodation. His SOS call on the humanities Facebook page alerted the dean of humanities and other members to his situation. The dean of students then helped him to find accommodation.
Neo Mahatelle a 2nd year BEd student from the Free State,did not receive his allowance of R800 a month until last weekend. He said the delay in payment left him begging for food and with no cash to pay for medical appointments or textbooks.
Thokozane Mthembu, another Wits student, said he was “literally hungry and angry”. He said the “NSFAS is supposed to meet us halfway not far away”. He had to pay a deposit and rent for accommodation but could not do so because the allowance was not yet paid.
The NSFAS said it was in the process of giving all students their allowances. NSFAS administrative officer Portia Madlabane said it was a lengthy process which “doesn’t just happen”. New students’ academic and financial records are first reviewed by a board before they are approved for financial aid. The loans are then paid by EduLoan.
Another BEd student, Thulani Ndlovu, found out this week that he does not qualify for financial aid. He said that despite being on the waiting list for two months he did not make the point system. This has left him taking the two-hour train ride from Daveyton to campus every day.