Step 1: Are you allowed to apply?
If you are a South African citizen registered at a South African university or TVET college to study for your first higher education qualification and your family income is below R600 000 per year, you are eligible to apply. You must be able to show that you are in need of financial assistance. The NSFAS Means Test assesses you and your family’s ability to pay towards your studies and determines your loan amount. If you were funded last year, and not changing your qualification you do not have to reapply this year.
Step 2: Know what you want to study and get a student number
Your next step is to know what you want to study and at which public university or college. You will need to tell NSFAS what your 2 qualification preferences are in your application. Apply to the university or college and get a student number. You do not have to wait for an acceptance letter from the university or college.
NSFAS loans are granted for undergraduate degrees and diplomas and the following postgraduate qualifications: B Tech – Architecture/Architectural Technology; B Tech – Biokinetics/Biomedical Technology/Biotechnology; Postgraduate Certificate in Education; Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting; and LLB. NSFAS loans are NOT granted for all other BTechs, Honours, Masters or PhDs. Some short courses and certificates might also be excluded.
Step 3: Get your documents ready
Before you start your application, make sure you have all the required documents. Your application will NOT BE PROCESSED if you do not include all the required documents. If you do not have a certain document, go to your nearest police station and ask to complete an affidavit stating why you do not have that specific document.
All your documents must be certified in the last 3 months at a police station. If you are under the age of 18 or if you are 18 and older and are still dependent on the household income of your parent or legal guardian, then this also applies to you. The documents must be certified on the front side of the page.
Write your ID number with a pen on top of every document before scanning.
You will need to attach the following documents:
Don't start the application until you have all the supporting documents, as you will not be able to save the form and come back to it later.
- Certified copy of your Identity Document. If you are younger than 16 years of age and do not have a green bar-coded ID or smart ID card, you must submit a certified copy of your unabridged birth certificate.
- Certified copy of Identity Document of each household member including parents or legal guardian.
- Certified copy of your latest academic transcript or exam results. If you are currently in Grade 12, you do not need to submit this. If you have been exempted from paying school fees, please provide a letter from the school informing NSFAS that you have been exempted.
- A Certified or official copy of recent payslip, letter of employment, not older than three months, for each parent, or the person who supports you, or your guardian or yourself if you are employed. This is for all types of employment or all forms of income for all members of the household. This includes any income received from SASSA grants, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), or any retirement, life, disability or other benefits paid as a lump sum or in monthly payments.
- If your parents or the person who supports you or your legal guardian are retired, please provide a copy of an official pension slip or bank statement showing pension payment.
- If your parents or the person who supports you or your legal guardian works as an informal trader, please provide an affidavit signed by them to confirm this employment.
- If either of your parents is deceased, please provide a certified copy of the death certificate.
- If your parents are divorced, please provide a certified copy of the divorce decree.
- If either of your parents does not live at home, please provide an affidavit explaining the reasons.
- If you are supported by someone who is not your parent or legal guardian, please provide an affidavit explaining the reasons.
- Certified copy of a SASSA letter if any of your family members are receiving a social grant and are also contributing to your household income. This also applies to your legal guardian.
- If you have indicated that a dependent in your household is a student, please provide proof of registration or acceptance at the TVET college or university for each dependent.
- If you have a disability, please complete the relevant supporting document and submit them with your application form.
- You will also need to submit a consent form, signed by your parent or guardian. You can find the form here.
Step 4: Start your application
You can apply directly through the NSFAS website by creating your own MyNSFAS account. Complete the form and upload all your documents. You can also apply in person at the NYDA Youth Centres.
Once you have submitted your application, you will have to wait to hear the outcome. Some people wait a few weeks others have waited 6 months. To understand why this can take so long, please read our article on how NSFAS works.
Step 6: Accept your loan agreement
If your application is approved, you will need to sign you LAF (loan agreement form) or SOP (schedule of particulars if you are receiving a bursary). Find out how to sign your LAF or SOP here.
Due to low-interest loans, NSFAS is the most affordable loan provider to South African students. However, the system serves thousands of students every year, and this can lead to many frustrations. Funding your studies is your responsibility. Visit your university or college's Financial Aid Office and make sure you keep up to date about your loan application.
You can contact the NSFAS contact centre on 0860 067 327.
All information sourced from NSFAS website.