Students who unduly received funding should pay back the money: NSFAS

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The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) says students who unduly received funds from it must pay back the money.

This comes as the financial aid scheme decided to cancel funding for 5000 students for the 2020 academic year, saying financial information obtained from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) revealed that the total household family income for these students was above the R350 000 threshold.

The students have been given 14 days from the date of issue to petition the decision, by submitting proof of family income or change of income to NSFAS for review.

NSFAS administrator Dr Randall Carolissen says all affected students have been notified.

Carolissen says, “…So when we discovered that some of these people clearly do not qualify, they were way over the threshold we unfunded them and we wrote to them to say provide us with reasons as to why we should reinstate you, that is a fair enough process because if I become aware of any untowardness in the awards I must act according to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).”

“We do understand since we’ve checked the SARS data, the data is about a year old, but things could have changed in the household people lose their jobs, people die, people get divorced that is why we leave this avenue open, it is not just a blunt instrument that we are using here,” adds Carolissen.

NSFAS confirms that 5 000 students who were funded for the 2020 academic year have been recently unfunded:

Impact of COVID-19 on NSFAS applications: Dr. Randall Carolissen

Meanwhile, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande announced the opening of the NSFAS 2021 application cycle.

This year the NSFAS application cycle will run for a period of four months with the closing date being November 30, 2020.

The application is for students from poor and working-class backgrounds who wish to further their studies at any public Technical and Vocational Education and Training college (TVET) or University.

Court case against student postponed again

The court case against Walter Sisulu University student, Sibongile Mani, who received more than R14 million in her student account from the NSFAS and is accused of spending more than R800 000 of that money was postponed without anybody appearing in court due to bereavement in the family of one of the legal representatives in the matter.

The case was postponed to August 28, 2020.

Mani is facing a charge of theft related to the money she spent.

The R14 million was credited to her in June 2017. The accounting student was only entitled to R1 400.

It is alleged the millions were erroneously deposited into her account by Intelli-mali, a company contracted by the NSFAS to make payments to students.

Mani is currently out on bail.

The video below gives more detail on the case against Sibongile Mani: