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How NSFAS Works For Returning Students


Post #FeesMustFall, the funding criteria for NSFAS changed. Returning students who are interested in continuing studies are welcomed to apply. However, they need to be on the lookout for a few things which will come in handy before applying for funding.

NSFAS bursaries aim to provide students with access to further their studies at any of the 26 public universities or 50 TVET Colleges including students who previously studied without NSFAS.

After the #FeesMustFall, the NSFAS funding criteria changed.

Currently, to qualify for NSFAS funding, one needs to be meet the following requirements:

  • South African citizens
  • All SASSA grant recipients
  • Applicants whose combined household income is not more than R350 000 per annum
  • Person with disability: Combined household income must not be more than R600 000 per annum

If you are a returning student and have started studying before 2018, you will be considered for funding if you meet the pre-2018 NSFAS academic and financial eligibility requirements.

Your combined household income threshold will be assessed in terms of the 2017 NSFAS DHET general fund criteria (i.e. up to R122 000 per annum).

What does the bursary cover?

Amounts indicated of accommodation, living allowance, transport and learning materials need to be aligned with the approved latest DHET guidelines.


  • Accommodation: As per the actual costs charged by the university (costs for private accommodation must not exceed costs for university residence)
  • Transport (up to 40 km from institution): R7 500  per annum
  • Living allowance: R15, 000  per annum
  • Book allowance: R5200 per annum
  • Incidental/personal care allowance: R2900 per annum for students in catered residences


  • Accommodation in an urban area: R24,000 per annum
  • Accommodation in an peri-urban area: R18,900 per annum
  • Accommodation in an rural area: R15,750 per annum
  • Transport (up to 40 km from institution): R7,350  per annum
  • Transport: R7000 per annum
  • Incidental/personal care allowance: R2900 per annum

That means that even if you’re in your second year of studying, you can still apply for NSFAS as long as you don’t have any other form of funding.

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