September, 2022

What NSFAS is doing to ease the challenges students face with allowance payments

With the country’s economic challenges impacting citizen’s wallets, student financial aid schemes like the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) are critical to easing the burden on students struggling to cope with the rising costs of living.

Clement Manyathela speaks to the CEO of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) about some of the challenges that the student beneficiaries face and how they are planning on resolving them

Though it has its fair share of issues and controversies, NSFAS provides students with a monthly allowance, to use for their needs.

Some of the issues faced by students only add to their financial stressors. With the current cellphone-based voucher system, students are issued their allowances through the institutions they are registered with.

This has resulted in the date which students receive their allowances being uncertain, as well as their allowance not being paid on time.

To tackle this, NSFAS is introducing a Mastercard system where students’ allowances will be paid directly to to them.

This Mastercard will operate much like a bank card that removes the troublesome middleman. It can be used to make transactions anywhere a standard card would.

NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo says that the Mastercard is part of NSFAS’s beneficiary model that aims at getting value for students through support.

It also comes with a lot of value-added benefits for our beneficiaries because, I think, part of it is what we are trying to do as part of what we call the ‘beneficiary centered model’ is getting value for our students, not just in monetary terms, but in making sure that even how we support them to, ultimately, get that qualification, there’s value in the process.

Andile Nongogo, CEO – NSFAS

The flexible solution will have an initial open period where students can use the card for any transaction that a bank card has.

This period will function as a way for NSFAS to gather data on what students spend their money on, in order to optimize what deals NSFAS can negotiate for them.

You need to gain and obtain empirical evidence about what students spend on, not just necessarily to restrict, but also to know, from our perspective, what deals do we negotiate for them.

Andile Nongogo, CEO – NSFAS

We will open the card, just for period, so that we understand the behavior for various reasons. Then, of course, there are things that are definitely a no-no for a card that will, then, put those restrictions -but, in terms of flexibility… this is a card that allows you flexibility like any bank card.

Andile Nongogo, CEO – NSFAS

The system will also use the data gathered, in order to get information on what restrictions it would need to set, to prevent students from intentionally abusing the card.

In order to ease the minds of students, Nongogo says that this data gathering is much like any analyses that other bank do on consumers. The process will require their consent.

The card will be deactivated once a student completes their studies, or once NSFAS withdraws their funding.