NSFAS student loans and bursaries

South Africa is home to many world-class universities and colleges, and you’re smart and want to get ahead in life. How are you going to pay for your studies?

Studying is an expensive undertaking. You can expect to pay between R10 000 and R20 000 for each year of undergraduate study at a South African university. Specialised or professional degrees, such as medicine, can cost much more.

South Africa also has a wide range of private colleges, where tuition fees can be higher than at the subsidized public institutions. Be sure to consider your options before deciding how to pay for your studies, and apply for any award or bursary for which you’re eligible.
University financial aid

If you have already enrolled at a university, or are considering doing so, their financial aid office should be your first stop. Most universities offer bursaries or grants to students that have excelled in their previous studies or on the sports field. Check with your university’s financial aid office whether you are eligible for any of these bursaries or awards, and make sure that you apply before the closing date.

National financial aid

If you are a South African citizen you may be eligible for a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) loan for study at one of the country’s public higher education institutions. The NSFAS, a statutory body funded by the Department of Education, provides study loans to academically able but financially needy students.

Much of an NSFAS loan can be converted into a bursary, which does not then need to be repaid, depending on one’s academic progress. A 100% pass rate would result in a 40% bursary rebate on an NSFAS loan.

The size of the initial NSFAS loan ranges from R2 000 to R30 000. You should apply at your university’s financial aid office.

External bursaries

Many South African companies offer bursaries to promising students.

The terms of these bursaries vary tremendously. Contract bursaries require you to “pay back” the bursary by working at the company once you’ve completed your degree – giving you a job and work experience immediately after your graduation. Many mining and engineering companies, in particular, provide contract bursaries.

The Bursary Register, available at most high schools and at your university’s financial aid office, will provide you with a full list of bursaries available in your particular field.

Student loans

All of South Africa’s major banks offer student loans, both to South Africans and to non-South Africans with valid study permits. Bank loans, unlike NSFAS loans, will also cover studies at a private institution.

When applying for a bank loan, you will have to show proof of registration at an educational institution. You’ll also need somebody, such as a parent or guardian, to sign surety for you.

Although you will only need to start repaying your bank loan once you’ve completed your studies, you will need to keep up the interest payments throughout the term of the loan.

Paying your own way

You can also choose to pay your own way. By taking a year off to work before studying, or by working part-time while pursuing your studies, you can gain valuable work experience while earning to finance your degree.

You’ll have to be disciplined, however, to make sure that you set aside enough time for both your studies and your work, and to make sure that you don’t fall behind in either.

Source: southafrica.info, ssw.uga.edu, nyu.edu, nsfas.org.za


10 thoughts on “NSFAS student loans and bursaries

  1. I am currently funded by NSFAS and they can not meet all my needs and i am changing the course next year, from Public management to Marketing and i am begging for a bursary.

  2. i am currently in matric,in Durban, i am in need of a bursary or a studet loan to proceed my studies next year. I am a non-south africa with a valid study permit. how can i get either a bursary or study laon?

    1. To Herziel

      Thank you for your comment.

      See below some website suggestions with information about bursaries in South Africa.

      Please contact the NSFAS directly with your enquiry – http://www.nsfas.org.za/

      Take a look at this website for further information on bursaries – Career Advice Services

      Do not hesitate to contact us if you require further assistance.

      Thank you,


      My Dream Course Blog Team

  3. Dear Sir/ Madam

    My name is Donald Movundlela whom is attending in Tshwane University of Technology doing my second year in horticulture.I have a problem regarding my tution fees.Last year february i applied for financial assistance and i was placed on the waiting list. the NSFAS officials told me that they will send me an sms telling me about my status whether i was accepted or not. they never send me anything and everytime when i visited them, they said i should wait for the sms and that i was still on the waiting list.apund april i went to them again about my request and they still said that i was on the waiting list. so as time passes, by i was becoming more warried and paniking as they were not responding at all. so june examination started and i wrote them without any harm.at the biggining of the second semester i found out that my result were blocked. the following day i went straight to the NSFAS officials again and i told them about my result being with held, they said “you are still on the waiting list and please in future do not come here again if you didn’t receive any sms”.fortunately enough i found out that i was still registered for the second semester.

    so i wrote my final examination on october with the debt and luckily they were not bothering me at all. early this year, my final examintion result were blocked as a result of outstanding amount of R16623.58 as well as my re-registration for 2011. i went to the SRC people again and told them my problem again, they said i should go to the NSFAS manager by the name of Boy and when i arrived there, i told him the same story, He said”To be on the waiting list,it doesn’t mean that we will pay for your fees”. so i went back to the SRC people and tell them what i’ve just heard, they took me to the HOD of NSFAS(Tessa) and told her my problem she then said i should fill in another form as well as the appeal form, so i did so hoping that they will help me,she then said NSFAS is not responsible for the outstanding amount.she advised me to go to the debt collectors where they told me that they can’t register me and infact they are taking me to the lawyers said Dr: Frans Kgomo. i had no where to go as my mother is a pensioner whom had a head injury as a result of accident that caused her to live working as a teacher, my father is just a merchandiser so it was complete impossible to get that kind of money in such a short time.i then cried out to the premier of limpopo to help me in this problem and he did helped me to pay for the outstanding balance of R16219.93 as i couldn’t register for this year.so finally they registerd me.

    i applied again for financial assistance this year and i am still placed on the waiting list again.at the end of the year i have to pay the sum of R12000 excluding accomodation.i don’t know if they will pay for me as they didn’t pay last year.please i really need help, i am also failing to pay for accomodation as my parents are not balancing every month,i don’t have any where else to go i tried my best where i could. if only i get financial assistance, i will be able to concerntrate only on my studies so that i can achieve my goals and be able to take care of my parents as well as my siblings.

    Yours faithfully
    Donald Movundlela

  4. NSFAS assisted my daughter for the 1st year with only R6498.00 , i am a single parent, my daughter is an A Student, this is her 3rd year, she was notified that financial assistance was not approved, other students with her that are re-doing modules, gets the assistance, why do i have to put someone else’s social grants details for my daughter to get a bursary and complete her studies, i dont even have money for books for her, fortunately she hasn’t been discouraged, the result is in her assignments, she obtains 90% . I even write to the office of Helen Zille, they replied that i should write to Blade Zimande, well i have still not received a reply, this is very nailbiting…

  5. Hi i am currently a first year student at Camelot international health and skin care therapy. My course is very expensive and unfortunately i am not able to continue my studies next year due to financial reasons. I am looking for a bursary so that i can continue next year but cant find any company that is willing. I am a very promising student & i would do anything in order to finish my next 2 years. Is there any way you can please help me?

    1. To Rozelle

      Thank you for your enquiry and apologies for delay getting back to you.

      Sorry to tell but My Dream Course does not offer bursaries. You will have to contact institutions directly. All we can do is try to assist and direct you in the right direction.

      For information about companies and organizations offering bursaries, please read this article – South African Institutions and Companies offering Bursaries Part 1

      Do not hesitate to contact us if you require further assistance.

      Thank you,

      My Dream Course Support Team

  6. i kindly apply for a bursary in order to do my specific course for social worker as seen on your website you offer bursaries for people who are not financially stable. as a person who want to grow educationally and who wants a brighter future as i cant afford to assist myself hopefully if you can help me you will change my life.

    i am hardworking, co-operative and willing to do whatever it takes if given chance.


    Ms Maite Perculia Chiloane

    1. To Perculia Maite

      Thank you for your enquiry.

      Sorry to tell but My Dream Course does not offer bursaries. You will have to contact institutions directly. All we can do is try to assist and point you in the right direction.

      For information about companies and organizations offering bursaries, please read these articles




      Do not hesitate to contact us if you require further assistance.

      Thank you,

      My Dream Course Support Team

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