As time moves on we will improve and update this list of frequently asked questions about the Ikhusasa Student Financial Aid Programme.

We have tried to cover the most relevant and frequently asked questions to improve on service delivery and so that we can try and have as much information on this website as is possible at all times. This is, however, just a web page and cannot possibly hold all the answers.

If your query is not listed here, or you need further information, please contact us by clicking here so that one of our proficient consultants can assist you in the best possible manner.

Q & A

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Why was the pilot created?

In 2016 the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr. Blade Nzimande appointed Mr. Sizwe Nxasana to lead a Ministerial Task Team (MTT) to explore various options for funding the poor and “missing middle “ students who require financial assistance in order to succeed in tertiary education programmes. The MTT report that came out of this process proposed a model that brings together the government, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the private sector into a public private partnership to enable this objective.

The pilot programme has been created to test aspects of this model and will run concurrently with a comprehensive feasibility study in line with Treasury Regulations to confirm student financing needs and review the proposed solution (which will incorporate public comments).

When will the pilot be rolled out and what areas of study will it fund?

The pilot commenced in February 2017 and will fund students studying towards being:
  • Actuaries
  • Chartered Accountants
  • Artisans
  • Engineers (civil, mechanical, chemical and electrical)
  • Medical doctors, pharmacists and prosthetists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Social workers
  •  Speech and hearing therapists

Why were these specific areas of study chosen?

The programmes selected include occupations in high demand as well as some general formative programmes in the humanities/social sciences and natural/physical sciences.

The programme will ultimately support students in any qualification, including general formative qualifications as well as those designed to produce professionals, technicians and other skills for the labour market.

The pilot programme will also, through providing full funding for students, contribute to improving the employment prospects of graduates, while simultaneously creating a highly qualified and sustainable pipeline for these professions that our country so desperately needs.

Funding restrictions (funder human capital requirements and preferences) also determine the programmes selected.

At which tertiary institutions will the pilot be rolled out?

The pilot institutions are the following:
  • University of Venda
  • University of the Witwatersrand
  • University of Pretoria
  • Walter Sisulu University
  • University of Cape Town
  • Tshwane University of Technology
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal

Why have the above institutions chosen for the pilot?

The above-mentioned institutions have been chosen:
  •  - to ensure a mix between rural-based and urban institutions
  •  - because they have larger proportions of missing middle students
  •  - because they offer qualifications in the pilot’s chosen fields of study
  •  - based on amount of limited funding which could be raised mainly from the private sector for the pilot.

Who is responsible for the pilot?

The pilot programme is being led by the Department of Higher Education and Training, with the support of private sector partners. So it is a public-private partnership that falls under the stewardship of DHET Minister, Dr. Blade Nzimande, with NSFAS Chairperson, Mr. Sizwe Nxasana being the project lead.

Will the pilot replace of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme?

No, the pilot will not replace NSFAS as it will cater for students outside of NSFAS’ realm. The NSFAS will continue to provide funding to poor students (defined as students from households whose annual income is between R0 – R120 000).

How will the students be selected and when do they begin their studies?

The pilot students form part of the 2017 enrolment and are selected according to:
A household means test o Academic criteria, which vary per institution but will include:
- A National Benchmarking Test for some institutions (academic and behavioral strength) - Matric results (for TVET college) o Funder constraints (different funders have different goals, requirements & constraints)

What is the cost of funding for the pilot?

The average full cost of study per student for the pilot is R102 098.97

What does the full cost of study mean/entail?

The full of cost of study for the pilot is broken down into the following:
  • Registration fee
  • Accommodation reservation fee
  • Tuition fees
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Learning materials (calculator, textbooks, - Living allowance / pocket money
  • Wrap-around support costs (project manager; tutorial support; life support; admin support; life skills training; staff mentors)

How will funding work?

Each student selected to be part of the ISFAP pilot will receive enough funding to cover all tuition costs as well as accommodation and travel, books, meals and a stipend. This will be through a funding combination of a grant, deferred income payment, and expected family contribution. In addition the Universities and the TVET College will provide students with academic support, social support, life skills training and medical support when required.

What happens after 2017? Will students continue to receive funding support?

The selected students will be funded for the full period of their studies, meaning that they will continue to receive funding even after the 2017 pilot year - provided that the students meets the requirements for progressing at the institution

Where will funding for the pilot be sourced?

As per the Ministerial Task Team’s recommendations, funding is being raised from:
  • non-profit organisations
  • development finance institutions
  •  foundations, local and international donors and the private sector
  • private individuals

How does the pilot play a role in addressing higher education imperatives in the country?

If successfully rolled out, the pilot programme will go a long way in not only beginning to solve for the funding challenges faced by poor and “missing middle” students, but also in addressing other challenges which South Africa faces, such as graduate employability. Through the public-private partnership, the pilot is also an indication of the positive work that can be done when government and the private sector come together.

Who are the parties involved in the pilot/PPP?

Any additional questions?
If there is something that is not covered in the FAq's above, please contact an ISFAP representative