South African Government

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How to raise cash for studies

If your family cannot afford to pay for your studies, don’t despair. There are several options available to deserving students who have trouble paying for their studies.

Tertiary education is very expensive. For example, the average tuition fee for first-year studies were between R28 000 and R50 000 per year in 2016 (Africa Check). This excludes accommodation, books, meals and travel costs.

The following are funding models you can use:

National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)

This scheme offers funding if you are academically deserving and financially needy. To qualify, you must pass the means test, which will assess whether you are really needy. You can use your NSFAS funding to pay for tuition, books and accommodation.

NSFAS funding is only available to South African students registered at a public university or TVET college.

How to apply for NSFAS funding:

NSFAS Call Centre: 021 763 3232

Bank loans

Banks offer study loans, but the strict lending criteria can be a challenge.

Some banks require surety or a guarantor, someone who will guarantee to repay the loan if you fail to do so. For further information, contact your local bank or visit its website.


Some students choose to work first or work part-time to earn money and save for their studies. People who choose this option often work really hard when they start.


There are corporate bursaries from large companies available to students. These bursaries differ in selection criteria and in what they cover. Some of them are comprehensive, while others offer relatively small financing.

Most bursaries are renewable annually, depending on successful completion of the academic year. You should check the current bursary register book, which is usually available at high schools or the financial aid offices of universities, or you can visit the website of the company offering bursaries.

Bursaries from government departments

Various government departments offer study bursaries to students who perform well and need funds to study. Most of these departments are at provincial government level and offer bursaries in line with their scope of work. For more information, contact the relevant provincial department

Bursaries from municipalities

Some municipalities offer bursaries in a way similiar to that of government departments to students who live in the specific municipality. For more information, contact your local municipality about bursaries or other available funding options.

>> Vuk'uzenzele, November 2012