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By Enkosi Selane

Digital Journalist

‘I don’t have money for groceries’- UJ Nsfas students hungry after being short changed by over R1.3K

Students at UJ said the small amount of money received from NSFAS "deeply" affected them.

Students have been left deeply disappointed with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ), after a mix-up that “deeply” affected their livelihood and learning.

Those on the scheme were recently given only R330 for a food allowance instead of the intended R1650.

According to Nsfas, the institution uploaded the incorrect registration information.

“This resulted in erroneous allowances being paid out to students,” said the bursary scheme.

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NSFAS concerned about potential protest

Nsfas anticipated potential anger among students over the error.

“This dissatisfaction may lead to protests and a negative perception of the NSFAS direct payment process,” it said.

‘I can’t even focus in class because I’m hungry’

Speaking to The Citizen, students at UJ said the small amount of money received from NSFAS “deeply” affected them.

“NSFAS did not give me my full meal allowance this month. Now I don’t have groceries. We only received R330 for meal allowance which is quite disturbing,” said one of the students.

“It’s just bad, I cannot even focus in class because of the hunger,” the student added.

Another said alleged service fees meant they got just over R300 to last them for the month.

“Can you imagine eating R300 for the whole month? Yho, this thing is affecting me because right now I am hungry,” said the student.

Matter to be resolved

In a statement, UJ assured its students that the R330 “saga” would be resolved. However, the institution did not make any mention of when this would be done.

“The R330 saga is attended to and you should be able to receive your R1650,” it said.

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UJ Media Relations Coordinator Herman Esterhuizen said the university was actively prioritising affected students by offering the required support.

“UJ is engaging NSFAS directly to resolve the matter,” said Esterhuizen.

EFFSC/NSFAS blame game

Nsfas blamed the fiasco on UJ for allegedly uploading R3 300 instead of the correct R1 650 monthly allowance.

They said this resulted in their system automatically capturing the incorrect information.

“The payment of allowances is not a manual process; rather, it is system-based.

“The NSFAS system processed the R3 300 claimed, assuming it was for annual allowances, and consequently divided it by 10, representing the 10 months from February to November 2024,” said the scheme.

UJ Auckland Park Bunting (APB) Economic Freedom Fighters Student Council (EFFSC) said the statement from NSFAS was an “exposure of internal incompetence”.

According to the council, NSFAS allowed UJ to disburse allowances for February and March through Fundi. R1650 monthly, consisting of R3300 and an additional R5460 for the once-off book allowance.

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UJ allegedly claimed these amounts and disbursed them to student accounts accordingly.

“The statement released by NSFAS stating that UJ was supposed to claim R16500 annual allowances does not in any way make sense. This shows that there is a lack of financial mathematics and poor coordination in the system,” the council added.