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By Chulumanco Mahamba

Digital Night Supervisor

‘If you rob Nsfas, we’re gonna come for you’ – Nzimande says as applications open

Minister Blade Nzimande launches the Nsfas application period, emphasising a crackdown on fraud.

As applications for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) open, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Technology, Blade Nzimande, has issued a warning to those who try to defraud the scheme.

During a media briefing, Nzimande invited existing and prospective students to apply, announcing that the Nsfas funding applications formally opened on Tuesday.

“The only way to access Nsfas is to apply. Now that we are open, we are calling upon prospective students to apply – those who will be coming in for the first time and those who are returning –and also urge parents to move closer to the process so that we are able to ensure that as many of those who must benefit must indeed benefit,” he said.

Applications close on 31 January 2024

The applications will close on 31 January 2024, which gives students two months to apply.

ALSO READ: ‘They’ve misunderstood procedure for feud’ – Nsfas on student union’s allegations

The minister further announced that, to improve services to students, applicants will no longer need to submit supporting documents, except identity documents.

“This is an important improvement that Nsfas has linkages with the South African Revenue Service (Sars) to check parental and student eligibility. We also have interaction with data from the Department of Home Affairs and access to data from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa),” Nzimande said.

He added that this was a significant improvement because one of the problems the government has was getting applicants to prove their eligibility for jobs or services with supporting documents when that information was on the government’s systems.

He, however, emphasised that applicants must not use the fact that supporting documents are not needed for their application to take a chance at defrauding the fund.

ALSO READ: NSFAS is nearing collapse, says student union

“If you rob Nsfas, we’re gonna come for you. We urge students and parents not to do that,” the minister warned.

Nsfas challenges

Regarding the challenges Nsfas has faced, Nzimande said though certain difficulties persisted, Nsfas was attempting to enhance its procedures and systems.

Last month, the board terminated CEO Andile Nongogo’s contract after an investigation into allegations related to the appointment of direct payment service providers.

The SA Union of Students (Saus) also sounded the alarm on Nsfas, saying it was on the brink of collapse.

ALSO READ: No jail time for Nsfas thief Sibongile Mani, court rules

“Nsfas does admit that it’s got challenges that it is working on, but the system is working. It’s funding more than a million students,” Nzimande said.

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