Home Article Student Loans And Bursaries In South Africa

Student Loans And Bursaries In South Africa


South Africa is home to many world-class universities and colleges, but forming a part of one of these institutions will cost prospective students quite a bit. South Africa also has a wide range of private colleges, where tuition fees can be higher than at the subsidised public institutions.

Nonetheless, acknowledging how expensive an undertaking pursuing tertiary education can be, many different bursary and loan options have been created to accommodate South African students who require funding.

Before applying for any potential funding options, be sure that you already know what type of funding option/s best suit your circumstances and apply for any award or bursary for which you’re eligible.

There are various different types of funding available for students, and they include:

  • University financial aid
  • National financial aid
  • External bursaries
  • Student loans
  • Bursaries for teachers
  • Paying your own way
  • Websites with bursary information

University Financial Aid

If you have already enrolled at a university, or are considering doing so, their financial aid office should be your first stop.

Most universities offer bursaries or grants to students that have excelled in their previous studies, or in sports or arts and culture, depending on the institution.

Check with your university’s financial aid office whether you are eligible for any of these bursaries or awards, and make sure that you apply before the closing date, which is usually in October of the year preceding the start of your studies. Some can be as early as March, so it’s worth checking the date.

The NSFAS website carries a comprehensive list of the contact details of South African educational institutions.

National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)

If you are a South African citizen you may be eligible for a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursary for study at one of the country’s public higher education institutions.

NSFAS, a statutory body funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training, provides study loans to academically able but financially needy students.

To be eligible for NSFAS funding, students would be required to prove a gross household income of R350 000 and below, and must be planning to study at one of the many public institutions in the country that are supported by NSFAS funding.

The bursary will cover all of the student’s fees and as of 2018, students have not been expected to pay back any money received from their NSFAS bursary even after their studies have been completed.

Visit the NSFAS website for more information about this bursary.

External Bursaries

Many South African companies as well as provincial government departments offer bursaries to promising students.

The terms of these bursaries vary tremendously. Contract bursaries require you to “pay back” the bursary by working at the company once you’ve completed your degree – giving you a job and work experience immediately after your graduation.

Many mining and engineering companies, in particular, provide contract bursaries. A list of the most recent bursaries available can by found here.

Student Loans

Most of South Africa’s major banks offer student loans, both to South Africans and to non-South Africans with valid study permits. Bank loans will also cover studies at a private institution.

When applying for a bank loan, you will have to show proof of registration at an educational institution. You’ll also need somebody, such as a parent or guardian, to sign surety for you.

Although you will only need to start repaying your bank loan once you’ve completed your studies, you will need to keep up the interest payments throughout the term of the loan.

There is also the Fundi student loan that students can pursue.

Bursaries For Teachers

Funza Lushaka is a government-funded bursary scheme aimed at promoting teaching in public schools.

Students planning to complete a teaching qualification (in a subject area identified as a national priority by the Department of Basic Education) can apply for full-cost bursaries – which cover the cost of tuition, books as well as living expenses.

Recipients of these bursaries have to be South African citizens and will be required to teach at a public school for the same number of years that they receive the bursary. While recipients may request to be placed at a school in a particular province, they cannot choose the school.

Note that you need a student number to apply for a bursary and you can apply for a Funza Lushaka bursary through your university.

See the Funza Lushaka website for more information.

Paying Your Own Way

You can also choose to pay your own way. By taking a year off to work before studying, or by working part-time while pursuing your studies, you can gain valuable work experience while earning to finance your degree.

You’ll have to be disciplined, however, to make sure that you set aside enough time for both your studies and your work, and to make sure that you don’t fall behind in either.

Websites With Bursary Information

  • Bursaries Portal: lists bursaries according to field of study and includes bursary values, as well as a link to specific sites.
  • Funding opportunities from the National Research Foundation, which is one of the Department of Science and Technology’s key science councils.


Originally posted on February 19, 2023 @ 10:41 pm

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