What Does NSFAS Cover? 5 Essentials & Monthly Allowances

Imagine a South Africa with millions of young people wandering in the towns and rallying on small businesses or labor while studying in the university. Of course, the administration will be unable to deal with the crowds of adults.

All these could be possible if there is no NSFAS, the institute for financial aid for students in South Africa for those who cannot afford the expenses of meals or books during their studies.

NSFAS covers almost all expenses of the students, providing them a list of allowances such as travel allowance, personal care, or accommodation allowances. NSFAS also assists in the essentials for example tuition fees or living expenses.

I have discussed all these in detail below and talked about each and every point. Come along with me and we both explore the complexities of the NSFAS assistance programme.

NSFAS Coverage in Various Institutions

One of the many questions that arose when applying for this aid in my undergraduate level of education was what NSFAS covers. Initially, I thought NSFAS only covered the tuition fees for the institutes, but I was wrong.

The following are a few essential bursaries that NSFAS covers for a university and TVET college.

For The University

NSFAS covers many essential for the easy survival of students in South Africa, but the most prominent include student accommodation, book allowances, food, transport, and personal care. Student accommodation is where most of a student’s expenses go.

NSFAS makes this much easier because you can pay accommodation expenses with this fund if you rent a university residence. In contrast, if you live in a private residence, NSFAS covers your accommodation bursary if it lies within the university’s residence price range.

Furthermore, NSFAS covers your transport expenses within 40 km of the university. Simply put, your transport fee is free if you travel within 40 km of the university. You must pay the transport fee if you travel far from the university.

Besides covering transport and accommodation bursaries, NSFAS covers all your meal expenses if you live in a student residence. Moreover, it covers your book allowances during your studies.

One of the factors that I was shocked to know about was that NSFAS covers personal care allowance. During my undergraduate studies, I got into an incident, and to my surprise, NSFAS covered my incidental or personal care allowance.

For TVET College

For a TVET college, NSFAS also covers student accommodation, but it differs from the university system. NSFAS covers student accommodation within an urban, pre-urban, or rural area. In short, NSFAS won’t cover student accommodation expenses for a TVET college if the residence lies outside thief areas.

Furthermore, it covers meal expenses for students living in a student residence. With this funding scheme, you can also travel within 40 km of your institute. Lastly, it covers incidental or personal care allowance for the students.

For Disabled Students

NSFAS Allowances for Disabled Students

Although NSFAS helps most undergraduate students in South Africa to pay their bursaries, this funding scheme offers more facilities to disabled students. Like the university and TVET college students, NSFAS covers student accommodation, transport, meal, books, and incidental or personal care expenses.

Additionally, it covers assistive devices for students, including wheelchairs, hearing aids, and much more. It also facilitates disabled students by supporting them with aids like caretakers or tutors who can assist them in their studies.

Basically, it provides multiple allowances from living to travel. These allowances are given to the students in the form of funds or sometimes directly to the university. I have collected all the allowances NSFAS provides, take a look below!

Amounts of NSFAS Monthly Allowances

During graduation or post-graduation studies, one should stay away from other activities such as labor or jobs to focus on his studies. It will not only help the student to get good grades but also allow him to think out of the box, without mental stress.

To ensure both of these, grades and mental well-being, NSFAS assists poor students to get financial aid and focus on their studies with the help of their allowances schemes.

Since 1999, the NSFAS has helped millions of students. The allowances are highly significant for students who cannot afford their living but want to get higher education. Because South Africa has built one of the best universities in the world and aims to create a healthy environment for the students, it is also working on putting as many students as the authority can, in higher education institutes.

But as the country is still considered a developing region and 25 percent of the whole population is still facing food poverty, here NSFAS plays a crucial role in the lives of those students who cannot afford education.

1. Meal Allowances

The first allowance NSFAS provides is the meal allowance. In the opinion of experts, the meal allowance is provided because they want to deliver food with the nutrition that will ensure the health of the students.

The NSFAS meal assistance is not for all poor students but for those who cannot afford food. Here comes an interesting fact every NSFAS member should know;

The department does not provide completely free food but will pay a part of the cost.

In simple words, if the cheeseburger price is about R30, you will pay only R10 but the rest of R20 will be given by the NSFAS.

Another significant detail, the food varies according to the university you are studying at. Basically, the cost of food varies in educational departments, so, in some institutes, the NSFAS pays 50 percent and in others, it contributes 80%.

2. Travel Allowances

After the food allowances, the next problem students face is “ how to visit the university daily?”. Actually, there are some people who cannot afford the daily cost of travel. But NSFAS is benevolent enough to help the students and assist them in terms of traveling.

The higher educational departments are full of people who come from far away, corners of the country. In such conditions, they cannot afford to visit the institute on a daily basis.

NSFAS provides them with a major amount of their cost of travel from the institute to their hometown. It is available only for those who deserve assistance while other students travel and pay the cost on their own.

Anyhow, the travel allowance also varies according to the university and the location of your hometown. NSFAS provides funds to eligible students and asks them to manage their travel expenses advisably.

3. Personal Care Allowance

Another type of allowance the NSFAS provides is personal care assistance. You may wonder what it is?, it is not related to the hospital insurance but focuses on the hygiene of the students.

Actually, the NSFAS department believes that the students they help should maintain their hygiene and not become a sample for viruses or other infectious diseases.

Therefore, they provide a personal care allowance in which they provide hygiene products such as shampoo and soap or toothpaste. These products ensure the hygiene of the students and prevent them from suffering from any serious disease.

You should consider, the assistance is only for those who have a deserved background. Plus, the fund amount will be directly given to the student, the amount will vary according to the living cost of the area.

4. Accidental Incidents Allowances

Emergencies and accidents are unexpected, but one must have to be prepared for them in advance. In such conditions of chaos and hurry, one needs financial assistance for resolving the problem.

However, not all people can afford the incidental expenses. But NSFAS never leaves the poor and deserving students alone. It provides them with funds to deal with accidents or emergencies without worrying about money.

NSFAS has a policy, it administers a small amount of money at the beginning of the month or at the beginning of the year. This amount is enough to travel in the condition of stress and help the hospital admitted students.

Well, the funds are given to the students and they may vary according to the other allowances such as the mean, travel, and personal care allowances.

5. Accommodation Allowances

The last problem a student can face is the issue of accommodation. It is true, people can afford food and travel but accommodation can empty your pocket. Although normally students are day scholars, the hostelite students face a harsh time while paying the rent and bills. But NSFAS supports them in accommodation whether the department provides a private rental place or you stay in the institute’s hostels.

The same rule applies here, NSFAS pays a significant part of the amount, and the rest of the money is given by the student.

Furthermore, the accommodation is included in the electricity bills, rent of the room and rent of the furniture. The amount is directly given to the institute or the hostel plus the contribution depends on how much a student deserves.

5 Essentials Covered By NSFAS

As I have mentioned above, NSFAS never lets you stay alone in times of crisis. NSFAS covers the major 5 essentials a student can face during his higher education programme.

The list of 5 essentials is simple in which tuition fees, accommodation, living expenses, books, and helping material expenses plus other expenses are included. I have discussed the importance of aid for these expenses and the role of NSFAS. Here we go!

1. Tuition Fee

The first essential where the NSFAS helps the students is the tuition fee. Now you may ask how much they contribute. As a matter of fact, NSFAS has a new policy for the contribution every year according to the budget for education. South Africa is increasing the budget for education so you can expect a greater contribution every next year. Another factor, the contribution varies according to the institute and programme you have chosen.

But the difference between this assistance and the previous one is that in five essentials NSFAS pays the tuition fee directly to the institute for the education instead of providing the student. You may have to pay 10 or 20 percent of your tuition fee and the rest is given by the NSFAS.

2. Accommodation

The next one is accommodation, NSFAS has the policy to settle the student for the end of the programme. That’s why it also contributes to the accommodation such as paying the bills of electricity and the room where you are living.

Moving on further, the amount is always kept hidden by the NSFAS for confidentiality. Plus, it varies from student to student because some come from extremely poor backgrounds and others can support themselves a bit.

The accommodation is dependent on the policy of the institute, if the university owns a private accommodation, you can spend your 4 years there, otherwise, you will live somewhere else. The amount is not given to the student but to the landlord or the owner of the accommodation to keep the transaction safe and maintain transparency.

3. Books & Other Helping Materials

First of all, you can get assistance from the library of the institute as the majority of the institutes offer their students to come to the library and take free books. But if your institute has no such offer and you cannot afford the expenses of the books and the helping material, NSFAS can provide you with sufficient aid.

Let’s say you have been admitted to higher education but no bucks have left for buying the books.

NSFAS has a policy for those students who cannot purchase books and helping materials. When I say helping material, it does not mean the stationery products but the magazines, journals, and the newspaper a student may require during his graduation.

Anyhow, NSFAS directly transfers the amount to the library for providing books and helping material to the student.

4. Day To Day Expenses

Living expenses are also part of the 5 essentials and NSFAS assists in affording them. The institute provides you with an estimated amount to purchase significant belongings such as clothes, food, and transportation.

In this category, there are two major expenses; personal care and food expenses. Both of them are provided by NSFAS. But it does not give you the whole amount, rather you pay a major part of the cost.

On the other hand, the living expenses are dealt with by the special branch of the NSFAS which keeps in contact with food and accommodation matters of the institute. The direct transaction between the institute, food restaurant, or transport company occurs to maintain transparency between the NSFAS and the student.

5. Other Expenditures

You may face a serious medical condition or may have to go home for a few days because of an emergency. All these accidental events are a burden on the pocket of students but NSFAS has removed this burden by providing funds to the students.

NSFAS also deals with the conditions such as medical conditions during the programme, a travel accident, or the loss of any parent or sibling. It assists the students in such conditions, the fund is transferred before the course begins.

UNISA NSFAS Allowances

The University of South Africa is known for its assistance to deserving students. NSFAS plays a major role in it. The department provides a list of the allowances from tuition fees, accommodation, books, and purchasing other helping materials as well as living expenses.

The department closely looks after the students who cannot pay for their expenses and provides them aid to stay in the circle of higher education.

All the UNISA NSFAS allowances are given to the students who are on merit plus those who cannot afford the high expenditure of the university. There are further policies such as the need-based allowances and the deserved allowances by all means UNISA NSFAS helps students to come and grow in a healthy environment.

It takes care of the health and hygiene of the students by providing them with personal care allowances.

In this allowance, the institute is given funds by the NSFAS to provide soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and all the other products for maintaining hygiene.

It also provides an incidental allowance for visiting the home in case of emergency and medical problems. In more appropriate words, NSFAS is taking responsibility and educating you while providing all the possible luxuries of life.

The department has a strict transparency policy so you cannot trick it. Almost all the dues are given directly to the institute, the bookstore, the food restaurant, the landlord, and the hospital.

But the living expenses fund is given to the student for dealing with pocket money problems and day-to-day expenses. In case you try to trick the department, you may face a terrible result.

NSFAS is supporting the students for more than 2 decades and their criteria for selecting the deserved is clear. You can use an online form to get the privilege or visit the nearest office.

Anyhow, the selections are based on merit so don’t worry if you have good grades, you will get the assistance.

How much does NSFAS pay for accommodation?

The average amount of the NSFAS given to the landlord or the owner of the accommodation place is R45,000 per annum from the annual accommodation allowance.

Does NSFAS give pocket money?

The NSFAS delivers a monthly stipend or pocket money to students who cannot afford their living expenses. The amount of money may vary but the maximum amount one can get is about R4,500.

What does NSFAS pay for students?

NSFAS pays for almost all the essentials and basic needs. It helps you to get the food, it offers you to live in a well-furnished house, provides you with cosmetic products, pays you monthly, and contributes to your tuition fees. It also helps you buy books and help with materials.

Can NSFAS fund you for 6 years?

No, NSFAS does not fund for 6 years. The policy about supporting a student is dependent upon the programme you have chosen. Anyhow, the NSFAS will support one for five years and in case he does not complete the course, the student will need to pay the dues on his own.

How much does NSFAS pay monthly?

NSFAS pays a monthly stipend to students who are unable to meet their expenses with their earnings. The average amount NSFAS pays is about R4,500. However, the amount is given to the student directly to face the expenditure of the month.


The Nation Student Financial Aid Scheme has been working since 1999 and has helped millions of poor students who had a spark to get higher education and become gentlemen.

It has fulfilled the dreams of people who belong to the corners of South Africa to the center of the country. Anyhow, the scheme has an organized system of assisting students who cannot afford the expenses of university.

It provides all the basic needs such as food, travel, and accommodation allowances. NSFAS is based on a merit system and believes in transparency that’s why all the money transactions occur between the institute and the NSFAS.

On the other hand, you will get an amount for living expenses so you can deal with emergencies and medical conditions. Anyway, I have explained all the allowances and 5 essentials. I hope this information will help you.

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