If you are one of the 750 000 students who applied for NSFAS funding for 2021, you will now be asking, “When will NSFAS respond”? and “What is my NSFAS status?” or “How to check my NSFAS status online?”
Some of you may have been tracking your application, and you will be asking, “What does my NSFAS status mean?”
This article aims to answer those questions – and especially to explain the terminology used to describe your status.
Let’s start at the beginning:
What is NSFAS funding?
NSFAS, or the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, receives funds from the Government to provide financial support to disadvantaged South African students who wish to further their studies at public universities and TVET colleges.
There is a short period of about four months every year during which students can apply for funding for the following year – and then they must wait to hear whether their applications were successful.
Which brings us to the next question ….
When will NSFAS respond?
NSFAS will respond when you have proved to them that you meet the requirements. And the conditions are pretty much spelled out in the definition given above. You must show that
- You are a South African citizen
- You are disadvantaged. This means either that
- You are financially disadvantaged
- A SASSA recipient
- Not above the specified combined household
- You have a disability and specified household income
- You have “vulnerable child” status with the Department of Social Development
- You are financially disadvantaged
- You meet the academic requirements and have been offered a place to study at a public university or a TVET college
So … everything depends on the documents you have submitted to prove that you are eligible.
How does NSFAS decide who gets a grant?
They check on your eligibility – and that is what leads to delays and hold-ups.
The check starts with your documents. Have you submitted all the documents required? Have they been completed in full? Have they been signed and certified correctly?
Then NSFAS uses outside agencies to check that what you have said is correct. So they will deal with credit agencies and government departments such as Home Affairs, Social Development, SASSA, and SARS.
Finally, they need to know from the educational institution whether there is space for you, whether you have met the academic requirements either for new admission or continuing studies, and whether you have registered.
The last step before payments can start is that you must sign an NSFAS bursary agreement.
If you meet all the requirements, you will get a grant. However, NSFAS can refuse your application if you do not meet even one of these requirements.
What is My NSFAS status?
All along the way, NSFAS will tell you how far they are with the checking and will update you on two things:
- At what step of the 9-step evaluation process they are
- What your current “status” is. This is a description of what each step means for you.
How do I check my NSFAS status online?
You can use an internet-connected smartphone, tablet, or computer.
- Open your web browser
- Go to the student portal: https://mynynsfas.org.za
- Enter your email and password in the fields provided
- Click on the Sign-in button
- Select Track Application Progress
Twitter: https://twitter.com/myNSFAS – leave a DM (Direct Message)
Toll-free call: 0800 067 327
All queries are free.
Here’s is a tip:
If you’re having a problem with the website, or you can’t understand what the status means, attach a screenshot to your query. Remember to include your ID number with all queries.
What is the NSFAS Application Evaluation Process?
There are nine steps in the checking or evaluation process.
What do these steps mean?
1. Application Submitted
Your application has been loaded onto the NSFAS system successfully.
You will receive an SMS confirming your application, with a reference number
The system checks if you are a returning student and whether you have any previous qualifications.
NSFAS is conducting third party checks about your identity and personal status (with SASSA, the Department of Home Affairs, Social Development).
NSFAS is verifying all the documents you submitted during your application.
5. Funding Eligibility
NSFAS is verifying the household financial status that you declared in your application (with SARS, credit bureaus, SASSA).
6. Awaiting Academic Results
NSFAS is checking your academic results and your institution’s admission status (whether you have received provisional acceptance to the University or College you have named in your application).
At the end of this step, you will receive an SMS or an email confirming that you have been funded – provided that you register with a public institution.
“Your Application Has Been Successful. Please Register at a Public Institution for an approved DHET Course.”
7. Awaiting Registration Data from Institution
NSFAS needs proof that you have registered at the institution. Data will include details of the course of study you are undertaking, which will be used to create a bursary agreement.
8. Signing of Agreement
At this stage, you need to sign your bursary agreement. This agreement is called NSFAS Bursary Agreement (NBA), but may also be referred to as SOP/LAF – Schedule of Particulars or Loan Agreement Form.
You will receive an SMS or email with a link to sign your NSFAS Bursary Agreement (NBA) online
Your allowances are now being paid either through the NSFAS mobile wallet system or through your institution.
What is my NSFAS application status?
You can log in to the NSFAS portal to see how far they are with checking and what your own “status” is. This is what the page looks like. (Everything on the screen is very small and not easy to read!)
The diagram shows each of the nine steps described above, with a code indicating how far the process has gone. In this example, it has gone all the way to the last step (green ticks on all boxes and a symbol of a hand with pointing finger on the last box).
The page also shows your application reference number, the date you submitted your application, your status, and the first funded year.
In this example, the original application was submitted in November 2019, and this person was given a reference number. The year for the start of funding is 2020. The status is “SOP/LAF received”. It means that this person has already signed the bursary agreement (Step 8). This was the last checking step in the process, so NSFAS could move to the last step – payments.
These are the icons that show what is happening:
The first example above is what you’d like to see: All the steps are ticked as completed – and payments are happening!
The next example shows that only the first three steps have been completed (green ticks), and there’s a hold-up at step four (white exclamation mark in red triangle). This symbol means that NSFAS is waiting for information and cannot move to the next step (grey arrow).
Here are some of the different status messages you might see and what they mean:
1. Application Submitted
NSFAS is acknowledging that you have applied for funding. They will send you an SMS with a reference number.
What must you do? Nothing – just wait. NSFAS must take the next steps.
2. Verifying the household income with third party sources / “Awaiting financial eligibility check” / “Awaiting academic eligibility check”
NSFAS has started verifying the financial information that you gave in your application. This usually is at Step 5. Or, NSFAS is checking whether you qualify academically (Step 6).
What must you do? Wait.
3. Awaiting support documentation
There are missing or incomplete documents in your application.
What must you do: Upload the missing documents or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You are likely to see the status change from “Awaiting support documentation” to “Application decision in progress”
4. Awaiting evaluation / “Application in progress”
A caseworker at NSFAS is assessing all the documents submitted and the verification information received to ensure that everything has been correctly submitted, captured, and validated. You might also see “Awaiting evaluation escalation”. This means that your application has been sent to a more senior caseworker/team leader to resolve some difficulty. Your status may give the reason – eg, the number of years you have already taken on your course.
What must you do? Wait.
5. “Academic eligibility checked” or “Financial eligibility checked”
This is a step between checking and moving to the next step in the process.
It is also where many students are very confused, so let’s try to explain it in more detail.
Step 5 is “Funding eligibility”. There will be a pause at this step while NSFAS checks your household income. Your status will be “Awaiting financial eligibility check”. When this information has been received, your status will change to “Financial eligibility checked” – and the process will move to Step 6. You will now see a green tick on Step 5 and the little hand symbol on Step 6.
Step 6 is “Awaiting Academic Results”. At first, you status will not change – it will still say “Financial eligibility checked” – you have done whatever was required in the previous step.
It is only when the caseworker starts to actually check on your academic results that your status will change to “Awaiting academic eligibility check” and the symbol will change to the red triangle.
(This is why students get confused – you are still on the same step, but your status has changed.) When the academic check has been completed, your status will change to “Academic eligibility checked”. Step 6 will have a green tick, and the process will move to Step 7.
What must you do? Wait. (And don’t write frantic messages on Twitter!)
6. “Eligible for funding but awaiting confirmation of academic admission” / “Funding eligible without admission”
You qualify for funding, but it is on hold until the university or college confirms your admission.
What must you do? Register at the institution if you have not yet done so. If you have registered, inform the institution’s Financial Aid Office of your new status.
7. “Successfully funded”
The application steps have been completed successfully. You might see “Provisionally funded” or “Waiting availability of funds”. Both of these also mean that your application was successful, and you can go to the university or college to complete registration. Payment will be made to the institution.
What must you do? Register and attend classes.
8. “Processing monthly payments”
All steps have been completed, and payments are now being made to your University or college
What must you do? Attend classes and make sure you pass!
9. “Application unsuccessful”
NSFAS has denied your application. This rejection can happen at any point along the evaluation process.
It could be because your household income is above the threshold, as in the example. Or you have applied for a course that does not qualify. Alternatively, you were funded for an earlier qualification, and you cannot apply again. Or you haven’t been admitted to a university or TVET College.
What must you do? There’s nothing you can do, if any of the above scenarios is correct. However, if you believe that there is something that NSFAS has not taken into consideration, your circumstances have changed, or you think they have made a mistake, then you can appeal. (Click on the Submit Appeal button.)
You have withdrawn your application, and NSFAS will take no further steps.
What must you do? Nothing, if you did withdraw your application. If you didn’t, or clicked on the “withdraw application” by accident, call NSFAS on 0860 067 327 for application reversal.
How to check NSFAS status for returning students?
If you are a returning student, you do not have to submit a new funding application. Your bursary is awarded for the full duration of your studies. Your status may show the year that you first received the bursary – eg 2020 Annual – even though you are waiting for approval for 2021.
However, renewal is subject to you meeting the academic (and any other) requirements for progression. You must also still be within the “n-plus 1” time frame.
You can check your MyNSFAS portal status in the same way as others. If your results are not yet available, the evaluation process will probably be at Step 6, and your status will probably be: “Eligible for funding but awaiting confirmation of academic admission”. It might also be at Step 9, showing that all steps have been completed previously.
Remember that you can register for the new year at your university or college even if you are still waiting for final funding confirmation. You will not have to pay the registration fee.
Why is NSFAS status not changing?
Some steps take longer than others. Usually, this is where NSFAS is checking with outside organisations. Sometimes these institutions are themselves waiting for information – eg the University is waiting for your matric results before they can finally grant you admission.
NSFAS may also be waiting for you. For example, at Step 4, they might ask you for certain documents. Or, after Step 6, you must complete the registration process at the academic institution. And at Step 8, you or your parent or legal guardian must sign the NSFAS bursary agreement (NBA).
So if you are asking, “When will your NSFAS status change?” Or “Why is NSFAS status not changing?” the answer is simple: NSFAS is moving through the nine steps of an application evaluation, and they won’t move from one step to the next until everything for that step has been completed.
If NSFAS is waiting for information from elsewhere, the step may take longer, and your status won’t change.
Just make sure that you act where you should so that you don’t slow it all down!
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