NSFAS has invited students who have been rejected for funding in 2017 to reapply before the end of February. 

Any Wits student who has been rejected by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is approximately one in 10 000 with the same problem, but there could be a glimmer of hope.

Students who have been unsuccessful must appeal by downloading the Appeals Form from the NSFAS website and submitting it to NSFAS before 28 February 2017.

Generally, the students have been rejected for two main reasons, unsatisfactory academic results or the failure to meet the financial eligibility requirements as determined by the NSFAS means test.

“The underlying objective is to prioritise students who come from poor backgrounds and have proven academic potential,” said NSFAS spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo.

NSFAS has recently experienced significant challenges with regards to allocating student funding for 2017 due to postponement of 2016 final year examinations to January 2017 at some institutions due to last year’s student protests.  “Student protests have had an impact on many returning students, because their funding could only be confirmed based on their exam results,” said Mamabolo.

Returning students who have failed to submit their agreement forms are also contributing to the backlog. “We received many application forms from new students that had some supporting documents missing, and had to make contact with those students to furnish us with the documents. This also contributed to some applications being delayed in the process,” said Mamabolo.

Although unimpressed with the NSFAS funding system, the Wits SRC is offering to assist students with their appeals to the organisation. Students who have been rejected by NSFAS can approach the SRC where they will be given assistance on how to write a formal letter. The SRC has also availed itself to edit any NSFAS appeal letters. “We reject NSFAS as a scheme, it’s not a solution and we’ll always have these problems if we continue to use a loan system to fund education,” said SRC Treasurer-General Thando Mntambo.

But Mntambo said the SRC would assist students to secure NSFAS funding. “The most important thing is to find out why they rejected you and then come to the office, we’ll help you straight from there,” she said.

So far, NSFAS has approved more than 250 000 applications and it is working on a budget of R15 billion for 2017. It is unknown as to how many more students can still be funded. “We are not in a position to confirm [the number of rejected students are still likely to receive funding] at this stage because each application’s appeal has its unique circumstances,” said Mamabolo.

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