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Frequently Asked Questions

What is ISFAP?

Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme
A Support and Funding model for financially needy students that fall under the categories of “Poor” and “Missing Middle” students.

What is the "Missing middle"?

“Poor” and “Missing Middle” students are defined based on the household income of the applying student. The household income bands that qualify under “Poor” and “Missing Middle” are:
Poor: R0- R350000
Missing Middle: R350000 - R600000

Why was ISFAP created?

In 2016 the then 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 Public and Private sectors together through a partnership to enable this objective.

A pilot programme was created to test aspects of this model and ran concurrently with a comprehensive feasibility study in line with Treasury Regulations to confirm student financing needs and review the proposed solution (which incorporated public comments). The pilot ended in 2018 with ISFAP being registered as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO).

Which tertiary institutions has ISFAP partnered?

ISFAP has partnered with the following public universities/institutions and has representation in all these institutions:

  • Central university of Technology
  • Nelson Mandela University
  • University of Venda
  • Stellenbosch University
  • University of the Witwatersrand
  • University of Pretoria
  • Walter Sisulu University
  • University of Cape Town
  • Tshwane University of Technology
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • University of Johannesburg

ISFAP will in due course partner with all 26 Public Universities in South Africa.

Why are 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.

What areas of study does ISFAP fund?

The area of study funded by ISFAP varies for each institution. Below is a list per institution, although this is the current list as per Jan 2019, ISFAP will continue to add to this list of Universities and courses which aligns to the skills most needed by the Country under “Occupations of High Demand” as defined by the Department of Higher Education:

  • Central University of Technology
    • Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Mechanical Engineering
  • Nelson Mandela University
    • Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Civil Engineering
    • Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Electrical Engineering
    • Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Industrial Engineering
    • Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Marine Engineering
    • Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Mechanical Engineering
    • Bachelor of Engineering in Mechatronics
  • University of Venda
    • Bachelor of Arts in Language Practice
    • Bachelor of Arts in Social Work
    • Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting
  • Stellenbosch University
    • BEng Civil Engineering
    • BEng Electric and Electronic
    • BEng Mechatronic
    • BEng Industrial Engineering
    • BEng Mechanical Engineering
    • BEng Chemical Engineering
    • Bachelor of Accounting (BAcc)
    • Medicine (MBChB)
  • University of the Witwatersrand
    • Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting
    • Bachelor of Economic Science in Actuarial Science
    • BCom General
    • BCom Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE)
    • Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering
    • Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
    • Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
    • Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
    • Bachelor of Medicine
    • Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Hearing
    • BSc (Maths of Finance)
    • BSc (Statistics and Actuarial Science)
  • University of Pretoria
    • BCom Accounting Sciences
    • BSc Actuarial and Financial Mathematics
    • Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBChB)
    • BEng Chemical Engineering
    • BEng Civil Engineering
    • BEng Computer Engineering
    • BEng Electrical Engineering
    • BEng Electronic Engineering
    • BEng Industrial Engineering
    • BEng Mechanical Engineering
    • BEng Metallurgical Engineering
    • BEng Mining Engineering
  • Walter Sisulu University
    • Bachelor of Chemistry
    • Bachelor of Physics with Chemistry
    • Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
  • University of Cape Town
    • Bachelor of Business Science in Actuarial Science
    • Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Electrical and Computer Engineering
    • Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Electrical Engineering
    • Bachelor of Science in Mechatronics
    • Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering
    • Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
    • Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
    • Medicine (MBChB)
    • Occupational Therapy
  • Tshwane University of Technology
    • Bachelor of Technology in Nursing
    • National Diploma in Medical Orthotics and Prosthetics
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal
    • Bachelor of Occupation Therapy
    • Bachelor of Pharmacy
    • Bachelor of Physiotherapy
    • MBChB
  • University of Johannesburg
    • BBAcc Bachelor of Accounting
    • B(Eng. Tech) Electrical Engineering
    • B(Eng Tech) Mechanical Engineering
    • B(Eng) Electrical and Electronic Engineering
    • B(Eng) Electrical and Electronic Engineering with Information Technology
    • B(Eng) Mechanical Engineering
    • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology in Computer Science and Informatics

Why were these specific areas of study chosen?

The programmes selected include occupations of high demand or scarce skills that have been identified as critical to South Africa’s economic development.

The programme will, 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.

Will ISFAP replace the National Student Financial Aid Scheme?

No, ISFAP will not replace NSFAS as ISFAP 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 – R350 000).

How are the students selected? What are the qualifying criteria?

  • A household means test is done for all applying students
  • Academic criteria and registration, which vary per institution but will include:
  • A National Benchmarking Test for some institutions (academic and behavioral strength)
  • Matric results
  • Funder constraints (that meet individual funder objectives) which will be applied to students applying

How do students apply?

Students can apply online at https://applyonline.isfap.co.za

What is the cost of funding per student?

The cost of funding varies per institution as ISFAP funds full cost of study. The average full cost of study per student is R140 098.97 (value based on funding of over 1700 students across multiple universities and courses)

What does the full cost of study mean/entail?

The full of cost of study is broken down into the following:

  • Tuition fees;
  • Accommodation;
  • Food;
  • Learning materials (calculator, textbooks, learning material);
  • Living allowance / pocket money;
  • Non-academic student support (project manager; tutorial support; life support; admin support; life skills training; staff mentors).

How will funding work?

Each student will receive enough funding to cover all tuition costs as well as accommodation and travel (if the student does not have accommodation), books, meals and a stipend (living allowance). This will be through a fully funded grant bursary. In addition, the Universities will provide students with academic support, social support, life skills training and medical support when required.

Where does ISFAP get its funds from?

As per the Ministerial Task Team’s recommendations, funding is being raised from:

  • Non-profit organisations;
  • Government institutions;
  • Development finance institutions;
  • Foundations and Private sector;
  • Local and international donors;
  • Private individuals.

What role does ISFAP play in addressing higher education imperatives in the country?

ISFAP plays a huge role in solving the funding challenges faced by “poor” and “missing middle” students, as well as in addressing other challenges which South Africa faces, such as graduate employability.

Through the proposed public-private partnership; ISFAP is an indication of the positive work that can be done when government and the private sector come together. The proposed PPP will see government be able to work to solve an issue of national importance (fees for poor and middle students) while giving business a sound initiative into which to invest funds that contribute to the future of their workforce.

Get your application for funding started TODAY!

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ISFAP - the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme - was established to assist poor and 'missing' middle income university students in selected fields of study to afford the university fees by means of providing financial aid provided the candidate meets certain prescribed requirements.
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