Students who wish to apply for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding for 2023 have just one week left to submit their applications.

NSFAS applications for funding for the 2023 academic year opened on 28 September 2022 and will close on 31 January 2023.

As of last Friday, a total of 1 131 419 applications had been received through the scheme’s online application portal and of these 156 700 were from South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) beneficiaries.

“All SASSA beneficiaries have received instant funding approval, pending registration at any of our public universities or Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

“NSFAS will release application results for those who applied for funding for the first time and returning students on 06 February 2023, while the funded list for continuing students has been released today,” Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande said.

Briefing the media on the state of readiness for the post school education and training sector for the 2023 academic year on Tuesday, the Minister advised unsuccessful applicants to appeal NSFAS decisions by submitting the relevant supporting documents between 20 January and 20 February 2023.

He said all application decisions, including the appeal option and appeal processes, will be available to applicants through the myNSFAS portal accessible via the NSFAS website at

To cater for the first few months of their academic journey, while applicants wait for their application results, NSFAS will make upfront payments to institutions to cover the costs related to registration, tuition fees and living allowances.

The scheme is currently finalising the upfront payment schedule for payment to universities and TVET colleges and payments will be made by end of January 2023.

“This means that all NSFAS-funded students will be registered by all the institutions without paying an upfront registration fee. Those who have applied for NSFAS finding for 2023 are encouraged to log onto their myNSFAS accounts to track their applications,” Nzimande explained.

NSFAS applicants can also access their application updates through a new WhatsApp line and a USSD code by adding NSFAS on WhatsApp 078 519 8006 or dialing *120*67327 to track their application status.

The scheme has deployed staff members to institutions across the country to assist with funding-related issues, including data exchange processes with institutions to ensure seamless data integration and the registration of students onto new NSFAS systems.

Eligibility criteria and conditions for financial aid

With regard to the 2023 NSFAS eligibility criteria and conditions for financial aid, the Minister said additions and refinements in relation to the qualifying criteria have been approved, and these include the following:

  • TVET college students studying occupational programmes can only be funded for the cost of tuition for the duration of the qualification.
  • TVET college students who are registered on an occupational qualification may qualify for allowances only if in simulated training. It must, however, be noted that students registered on an occupational qualification that has an employment contract do not qualify for NSFAS allowances.
  • TVET college graduates will be funded for a university undergraduate qualification regardless of the benefit that they would have derived from the application of the N+ rule at a TVET college level (On condition they did not exceed the TVET N+ Rule).

As of 2023, first time entering students (FTENs) must achieve a course credit pass rate of 50%, while continuing university students must achieve a progressive course credit pass rate of 55%.

All returning university students must meet ongoing academic eligibility requirements in order to remain funded by NSFAS.

“It must also be noted that academic progression criteria will increase from 55% to 60% over time. The N+ Rule for distance university students will be reviewed as of 2024.”

Postgraduate funding  

Meanwhile, Nzimande announced that the National Research Fund (NRF) will prioritise all NSFAS-funded undergraduate students who meet the criteria for admission to pursue their honours, masters and doctoral studies in all areas of Science, Engineering, Technology, Social Sciences, and Humanities.

“The full cost of study or partial cost of study funding will be awarded to South African citizens and permanent residents only, who are either financially needy (whose combined household family income is less than or equal to R350 000 per annum), living with a disability or exceptional academic achievers.

“All NRF continuing students who are eligible for a second or third year of funding must submit a progress report and not a new application,” Nzimande said.