The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) revealed nearly 19000 social grant recipient students who applied for bursaries could not be verified by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).
The student scheme revealed this when it appeared before the National Assembly committee on higher education, science, and technology this week.
In its report tabled before the committee, before NSFAS was sent packing for its late submission, NSFAS said it received 264 642 applications and approved only 246 004.
“The remaining 18640 applications cannot be verified against the Sassa database,” it said. NSFAS received more than 620 000 applications for the 2020 academic year. Most of the applications were new with the majority coming from KwaZulu-Natal, and being African and female.
“Significant increase in the volume and spread of applicants coming from the most vulnerable cohort of society,” it said in reference to the social grant beneficiaries.
The report showed recipients from KZN amounted to 141 372, followed by Gauteng with 105 618, Limpopo, 76 585, Eastern Cape, 55 441, Free State, 32 831, Western Cape, 33 518, North West, 26 015 and Northern Cape 5 181. There was a similar pattern in terms of numbers of female social grant beneficiaries who received bursaries across the provinces.
The report says 620 687 new student applications were received and 460 748 were eligible for funding.
Universities recorded 465 910 applications received and 372 970 were eligible, while at TVET colleges 154 777 were received and 87778 eligible. There were 2015 applications by disabled students and 1 322 were eligible. NSFAS said 451 587 returning students applied and 340 360 were eligible.
NSFAS said an updated report on student “historic debt” – claims for 2017 and 2018 – was still a work in progress: “An updated report will be released once all claims and processes are done.”
However, a report sent to Parliament showed an assessment of all historic debt claims submitted by institutions for 2017 and 2018 was complete.
“Some institutions submitted for students who did not meet the criteria for historic debt. Institutions were requested to adhere to the criteria and resubmit accordingly.
“All required institution claims have been assessed,” it said, adding that the scheme finalizes the processes based on audit outcomes.
The report showed 40 088 students were approved for payment of R729.1million historic debt and 41 371 were rejected.
Payments were outstanding to 2121 students as historic debt and 37 972 had their debts settled.
On Thursday, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said his department would focus on the effectiveness and expansion of new bursary schemes in both the university and TVET college sectors.
“This year, we are providing R34.5billion through NSFAS to support students from poor and working-class backgrounds in their studies at public TVET colleges and universities,” Nzimande said.
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Source: Political Bureau