What does the bursary cover?

The amounts may change every year. The maximums applicable for 2020 are as follows:


  • Registration and tuition fees for approved funded degrees and diplomas
  • Allowances:
    • For students staying in a university residence
      • Accommodation: As per the actual costs charged by the university
      • Books: To a maximum of R5 200 per annum
      • Meals (including incidental allowance): To a maximum of R15 000
    • For students living off-campus in family accommodation
      • Books: To a maximum of R5 200 per annum
      • Meals (including incidental allowance): To a maximum of R15 000
      • Transport: To a maximum of R7 500
    • For students living off-campus in private accredited accommodation
      • Accommodation: To a maximum of R34 400
      • Books: To a maximum of R5 200 per annum
      • Meals (including incidental allowance): To a maximum of R15 000
    • Incidental/personal care allowance R2900 per annum for students in catered residences
    • For Distance Learning students (eg at Unisa)
      • Books (only if registered for at least ten modules for the year): Up to R5 200
      • Incidental/personal care allowance: R2900 per annum


  • Registration and tuition fees
  • College accommodation (Hostels): R33,000 per annum. For students who live further than 40 km from the academic institution.
  • Private accommodation
    • In an urban area R24,000 per annum
    • In a peri-urban area R18,900 per annum
    • In a rural area R15,750 per annum
  • Transport (up to 40 km from the institution): R7,350  per annum or R735 per month, payable monthly only to students who do not qualify for college accommodation
  • Meal allowance: R7,350  per annum or R735 per month, payable where College accommodation does not include meals. It is not payable to those in private accommodation, as this is included in the accommodation allowance.
  • Incidental/personal care allowance: R2900 per annum, paid at R290 per month from February to November.

Special notes on funding

  • There is a maximum capped amount payable to students who were registered at a tertiary institution before 2018. For 2020, the amount was R93 400. If the qualifying NSFAS costs exceed the maximum, then payments will be made in the following order of priority:
  1. Tuition
  2. Books
  3. Accommodation
  4. Meals
  5. Transport
  • Allowances are paid in the first week of each month from February to November
  • Transport allowances are paid only to students who do not also receive an accommodation allowance.
  • Private accommodation:
    • The landlord must be accredited by the educational institution where the student is registered
    • When students apply to stay in private accommodation, they must supply both a rental agreement and their home address
    • NSFAS will not pay for deposits for private or any other accommodation
  • Students should check with their educational institutions for closing dates for applications for accommodation.
  • Students with disabilities can also receive funding for supportive devices such as wheelchairs, special computer devices, and human support, depending on the student’s needs.
  • If a student has financial support from another source covering a portion of the study costs, NSFAS will pay only the difference required to cover the cost fully. Students and educational institutions are required to inform NSFAS of any other support they receive.
  • Any part of the bursary amount paid to the institution for tuition fees and other related costs not utilized during the academic year will be returned to NSFAS.
  • NSFAS does not pay for the following:
    • Courses that are not on the list of funded programmes
    • Outstanding balances
    • Fines
    • Doctor’s fees
    • Breakage costs
    • Fridge rental, etc.

Repayment of bursary amounts

Repayment will be required under the following circumstances:

  • Students who completed all or part of their studies before 2018 must start repaying once they are employed and earn at least R30 000 per month. If the student passed all subjects in a given year or semester, 40% of the total amount was converted to a bursary, and only 60% would have to be repaid

No time limit is given for repayment since this is determined by the debtor’s salary and ability to repay. NSFAS can make deductions directly from a student’s bank account or his/her salary if necessary. Those who are unemployed are not expected to repay. Compound interest will be added to the outstanding amount from the date on which NSFAS claims the amount from the student.

  • Students who received funding from 2018 must repay if they decide to emigrate from South Africa before they have completed a period of contribution to the country’s economy, equivalent to the number of years they received funding. NSFAS will take legal action against emigrating students who do not repay the full amount owing.
  • Students will have to repay if they have intentionally submitted untrue or incorrect information to NSFAS. In this case, NSFAS may institute criminal and/or civil proceedings against the student and/or the student’s parents or legal guardians.

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