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The term “financial aid” is often used in different ways. Many institutions have a financial aid department which deals with bursaries and scholarships. In addition to this, for students from needy backgrounds, there is also the option of a loan from NSFAS, which is often referred to as “financial aid” by students and staff. These are government-funded, low interest loans which are only paid back once the student is working. NSFAS loans are only available for needy students, whose family earns less than a certain amount. Students first need to register with an institution, and then submit support for their application and to prove what their family income is. Students will have to cover their registration cost upfront. Based on their Expected Family Contribution (or how much their family generally earns), students will either be given a loan for their tuition only, or for tuition and accommodation, depending on how needy they are assessed to be.

Applying for an NSFAS loan can be quite complicated, and requires a lot of documents, of which certified copies need to be handed in. Every year, many students' applications are not accepted because the forms haven't been completed correctly, or don't come with the right documentation – so make sure to fill in your form carefully and provide certified copies (you can get this done at a bank, post office or at your educational institution) of all the necessary documents. Students who apply must be registered at their institution, be a South African citizen and show academic progress each year. Unlike a bank or EduLoan, no surety is needed for this loan. To apply for the loan, students must first be registered at their institution, and then apply through the NSFAS contact at their institution. See http://www.nsfas.org.za for more information, or contact the financial aid department at your institution (see the list below).

Financial Aid offices at various institutions in South Africa: